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Steven Moseley [Equine Dental Services Wales] treating a mare's teeth in the field as she has a foal at foot

STEVEN MOSELEY EQUINE DENTAL SERVICES WALES

Steven Moseley [Equine Dental Services Wales] using the rasp whilst looking into horses mouth with head torch

Why horses need dentistry

There are a number of reasons that horses need regular dentistry check-ups, but primarily it is for the general comfort and welfare of the horse. 

 

If you have ever watched your horse eat, you’ll have noticed that it has a rotating/grinding pattern, with the top jaw sliding over the bottom. This chewing action means that the centre of the tooth gets worn down whilst the edges become long and sharp. These sharp edges can lead to lacerations and/or ulcers in the tongue and cheeks, causing pain and discomfort when eating or when having the bit in their mouths. Left unattended, this can lead to inflammation and infection.

How often does my horse need to see the dentist?

The number of times a year your horse needs to see a dentist is very individual and will depend on things like their age and condition of the teeth. For example, young horses (up to 5) will be shedding their baby teeth and have a bit in their mouth for the first time, so will likely require more regular check-ups - at least 2 times a year. Similarly, older horses (15+) or retired horses may require more regular dental check-ups to ensure they continue to eat comfortably and maintain a healthy weight. However, on average, a horse in regular work with its ‘permanent’ teeth (e.g. lost its baby teeth) will probably need a visit every 6 - 12 months.

Signs your horse's teeth need doing:

Feed related changes

You may notice: ​

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Signs of discomfort or difficulty when eating

  • Quidding or dropping / dribbling feed

  • A lack of appetite

  • Weight loss

Ridden performance

​You may notice issues such as:

  • Becoming unwilling to take the contact 

  • Resisting the bit
  • Head tilting

  • Leaning on one side of the bit

  • Rearing

Behavioural changes

You may notice new habits:

  • Becoming difficult to tack up

  • Dunking their hay in the water

  • Windsucking, or other stable vices

  • Head shaking

  • Ridden issues

Physical changes

You may notice: ​

  • Swelling in the lower area of the head

  • Discharge from the eyes

  • Discharge from one side of the nose

  • Loss of condition

Steven Moseley [Equine Dental Services Wales] crouches to treat a sheltand's teeth. Dental gag on, Steve looks into the mouth with the head torch.

What happens on a visit?

Since most horses will show no outward signs of pain, it is up to us as horse owners to ensure that we stay on top of their dental healthcare.

For horses on a regular dental programme, the treatment on each visit is predominantly rasping the teeth (also called floating) to smooth sharp edges away.

 

The majority of horses accept the routine dental examination and treatment well, and so much of our work is done without sedation, but we are happy to work with your vet if sedation is required. 

1

Recent History

The visit starts with a discussion about your horse's recent history, their overall wellbeing, the work they are currently doing and whether that has changed, any changes in their behaviour - ridden or otherwise - and any concerns you may have. 

2

Visual examination

I then do a visual examination, looking at the horse's general health and wellbeing in preparation for being treated. 

 

I consider the horse's weight, condition and their manner e.g. do they appear well in themselves?

Or are they showing signs of behavioural issues, pain or stress.

3

Physical examination

After the visual examination of the horse's general health, I do a physical examination, looking for any abnormalities such as swellings in the face, discharge from the eyes and noses, or any other physical indication that there may be a problem with the teeth. I will also palpate the TMJ and check for any swelling or soreness.

4

Into the horse's mouth

With the Dental Gag on over the headcollar and gently set open, the mouth is rinsed clean of any food debris using a dental flushing syringe, so I can do a visual and physical examination of the teeth.

This includes inspecting the teeth, palate, gums, tongue, cheeks, bars and lips. The gag is then closed to rest the horse's mouth before treatment begins.

Depending on what I see and feel in your horse's mouth, we may discuss a treatment plan at this stage.

5

Treatment

For most horses, routine treatment involves simply rasping the sharp enamel points of the teeth and smoothing any abnormal surfaces (e.g. hooks, ramps, waves and overgrowths.*) This is done with an electric rasp.

You will notice that the process involves rasping, followed by a visual check (thanks to my bright head torch!) and I will also feel with my hand and rasp again until the surface is smooth. 

6

Discuss & rebook

Once the treatment is completed, I do one final examination in the mouth to ensure I am happy all sharp edges have been removed and that the horse has good lateral movement of the jaw. Then I will update your horse's dental records, marking any changes or issues that I need to make you aware of. We will discuss what I have found and any actions to be taken. Finally, I will advise when your horse needs its next dental check-up. We can rebook then or you can call to book nearer the time. 

* Depending on the size of the tooth overgrowth, we may need to reduce it over a number of treatments. This is because there are sensitive structures in the horse’s tooth, just under the enamel, and we need to be careful when reducing this not to expose those nerves. 

Steve has treated my horse since 2017 and I won't have anyone else! I know that Steve does a good job and my horse is always very comfortable in the mouth after treatment. Steve is very knowledgeable and very calm and patient with the horses so they respond well to him. I have a very sensitive pony and he now stands quietly to have his teeth done. Thank you! 

- Kelly, Glastonbury

Steven Moseley [Equine Dental Services Wales] treating a retired pony with the electric rasp looking into the horses mouth with the headtorch and gently holding the dental gag on the horses head

Areas covered 

With a base in Aberystwyth, I am happy to attend horses within a two hour drive time (so anywhere in Wales and the surrounding areas). I have clients all across Wales and in to Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

Map of the area covered by Equine Dental Services Wales which includes all of wales and counties in West Midlands - Gloucestershire and Herefordshire
Wales
West Midlands

Working alongside Equine Dental Services South West Ltd, I have also had the opportunity to treat horses at Clinics in Jersey, Guernsey, Spain and CyprusBut perhaps the most rewarding is the charity work we do out in Kenya - both in treating the working horses and donkeys, AND in educating and training locals in horse dentistry to continue the work. 

about
Steven Moseley [Equine Dental Services Wales] competing at the Cotswold Cup One Day Event, going over a haycart cross country fence

About Steve

Whilst completing my Diploma in Equine Management at Hartpury College in 2013, I met Toby Lee & Henry Billson from Equine Dental Services and my journey to becoming an Equine Dentist began!

I trained with Toby and Henry and achieved my BAEDT/BEVA qualification in 2015. I have treated all kinds of horses, from the very top level Olympic horses and racehorses, to a range of competition, retired and even rescue horses, ponies and donkeys. 

Through working with Equine Dental Services in Somerset, I have had the privilege to treat horses for Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, Zara Tindal, Chris burton, Julia Norman, among many others. The aim is always to make the horses happy and comfortable in their mouths and in doing so, assisting the owners to get the best out of their horses. Happy Mouth, Happy Horse!

I am Category 2 accredited by the BAEDT which means that in addition to routine care, I am authorised to extract teeth or dental fragments, remove wolf teeth and do palliative rasping, although this would need to be done under sedation for which I would need to work with your vet. 

In the future, I would like to work towards becoming an examiner of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians helping others to lead a career as an Equine Dentist.

Horses have always been my passion, working with them and also competing on them. Whilst at Hartpury College, I evented my horse Charlie up to British Eventing Novice level and with my partner Lucy, we are now bringing another horse up through the levels.  

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