When it comes to animals in general and horses in particular, it’s very important to put in some work to keep their teeth strong and healthy. A horse uses its teeth all the time for many different things. This makes it very important for a horse to have a good set of teeth.
Still, as horses get older, their bodies start to show signs of wear and tear, and their teeth are no exception. Over time, a horse’s teeth wear down, which makes them often very sharp around the edges. At the very least, this can cause a horse a lot of pain and discomfort. That’s why it would definitely be a good idea to float your horse’s teeth once a year, if not more often. But can you do this on your own, or do you need help from an expert?
What Is Floating a Horse’s Teeth?
Well, as was already said, a horse’s teeth fall out as it ages. Still, this doesn’t always happen the same way for all of the teeth involved. Even more so, when you think about how much a horse usually chews every day, it shouldn’t be surprising that some teeth wear down faster than others. When the teeth don’t wear down in the same way, “sharp edges” may start to form. This is very uncomfortable, not only because it makes it hard for horses to chew, but also because it can hurt your horse a lot.
Now, this is where being able to float comes in very handy. In other words, floating is a special way to shape a horse’s teeth so that they don’t have any sharp edges or hooks. The whole point of floating is to make sure that each tooth’s surface is as flat as possible again so that your horse doesn’t feel any pain. Specifically, floating should make it smooth again so that your horse can chew and eat, etc. Floating is usually done by a licensed equine dentist, but it can also be done by a veterinarian.
Using a special rasp or file is a tried-and-true way to float a horse’s teeth. This rasp is made so that the sharpest parts of a horse’s teeth can be smoothed down. This traditional rasp, which is also called a “float,” comes in every shape and size known to man and must be used by hand. But these days, you can also buy floats that are powered by electricity or work with an air compressor.
No matter what kind of float you use, it’s important to know that floating doesn’t usually take a lot of time. Of course, this is only true if there aren’t any other problems. When horses have more dental problems than usual, floating can sometimes become a little more complicated, and the process will take a little longer.
Lastly, it’s important to say that horses usually don’t feel any pain when they float. At most, your horse will feel a little bit of discomfort, which isn’t even close to being unbearable. Horses don’t feel any pain when they float because their nerves are much deeper in their teeth than they are in ours. So, during the floating process, it doesn’t happen very often that one of these nerves gets hit. So, when vets do the procedure on horses, it usually doesn’t bother them too much.
Why Do Horses Need to Float Their Teeth?
When a horse is healthy, the top of each tooth meets the top of the tooth next to it. This, along with the horse’s chewing, makes sure that each tooth wears down at the same rate.
But it’s too bad that horses that are kept as pets often have problems with their teeth. This is because, compared to feral and wild horses, we have changed what they eat.
A wild horse would spend the whole day with its head down, eating grass from the ground. We have changed this to hay, which is often fed in racks that are lifted off the ground. When a horse chews with its head up, its teeth may not be in the right place, and this can cause problems.
We have also changed the type and amount of food that domesticated horses eat, which is another problem. Their food is easier to chew and digest, and it doesn’t wear down teeth the same way. Basically, if we give our horses the best food and the best places to live, we might give them tooth problems.
Most of the time, these dental problems are caused by uneven wear on the teeth. To make up for this, you should get your teeth checked regularly.
If your vet or an equine dental technician notices that your horse’s teeth aren’t wearing down as they should, they may use a rasp to get rid of any overgrowths. Floating is the process of doing this with a rasp, either by hand or with a motor.
Can I do it on my own?
If you want to know if you can actually float your horse’s teeth yourself, the answer is short and simple: No, you should not float your horse’s teeth yourself. But, of course, this needs a little bit more explanation.
It’s important to note that floating a horse’s teeth is a very simple process. Still, this needs a little more nuance. It’s a simple task for a vet or a horse dentist, but not for the average person. There are a couple of things that should be said to back up this statement.
One of these reasons is that sometimes when a horse’s teeth are floated, they need to be put to sleep. It goes without saying that this can only happen safely when a vet is there to make sure everything goes well. The average person also doesn’t have any horse anesthetics lying around their house, and they definitely wouldn’t know how much to give. No matter how you look at it, putting a horse to sleep is never a good idea unless a vet is there to watch over the whole thing.
What You Need
Also, you need special gear to float, like the float itself, which was already mentioned. That’s the kind of thing that most people don’t have. Even if that were true, it wouldn’t be a good idea to start using that kind of equipment without someone who knows what they’re doing to show you the way.
What happened was
Last but not least, let’s not forget that vets and horse dentists have special training and education. So, they know exactly what a floating procedure is and how to handle the horses during it. Every horse is different, and vets are very good at knowing what kind of float to use for each horse and what exact strategy to use in every situation. This is exactly the kind of information that most people don’t know. So, this is the main reason why you shouldn’t float your horse’s teeth yourself.
If you don’t float a horse’s teeth, what happens?
If a horse’s teeth aren’t floated, any problems are very likely to get worse. Some problems with a horse’s teeth are:
- Ramps are long, sloping overgrowths of the teeth.
- Hooks at the front or back of the mouth on the teeth
- A tooth with a large overgrowth where the opposite tooth is missing
- An angle of the tooth’s grinding surface that isn’t right.
- Teeth on the sides of the cheeks have sharp points that can rub the inside of the mouth.
A regular dental exam will let you know if your horse has any of these problems. The horses’ teeth would usually be floated as part of the treatment plan. Problems that are more serious may need a lot of veterinary care.
Any problem a horse has with its teeth will get worse as time goes on. Your horse might have a small hook or ramp that one session of floating can fix. If nothing is done, it will get much worse in a year.
So, even though floating isn’t a hard process, you shouldn’t float your horse’s teeth yourself. When your horse’s teeth need to be floated, it’s best to talk to a vet. There are some exceptions, like people who are well-trained, but if you’re not one of those people, you should definitely talk to a vet.