Why Routine Dental Care Matters

Early detection of problems can help improve horse health this winter.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Zoetis

Winter can be a difficult time for horses to keep weight on, so don’t wait until your horse is showing signs of weight loss to discover that routine dental care is the solution. Along with scheduling comprehensive dental exams, knowing the signs of when your horse is experiencing problems is just as vital.

Catching dental problems early is a central part of your horse’s oral health. Indications that horses are having problems can include dropping of feed while chewing, nasal discharge, foul-smelling breath, weight loss and facial swellings. These all call for immediate attention.1 You might see clear signs of pain or irritation in your horse, such as fighting the bit or tossing his or her head. Early detection of these potential problems allows for faster intervention, which can minimize the impact of the problem for your companion.1

Are you still searching for great Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers this holiday season? An AQHA DVD might be your ticket. Purchase one of the "Your Horse's Health" DVDs for information from experts about the latest in medical technology, diseases and general horse care.

If your horse’s teeth are regularly examined and cared for, you should be able to avoid most dental or health complications. Despite this, about 56 percent of equine owners do not provide regular dental care for their horses.2 Regular oral examinations and treatment help promote longevity of the teeth, comfortable occlusion, efficient mastication and athletic performance.1 The frequency of providing complete dental exams depends on many factors — since each horse and situation may vary — but oral exams should be an essential part of an annual examination by a veterinarian. Generally, the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends brief dental exams biannually until the horse reaches 5 years of age, a minimum yearly dental exam from ages 5 to 15 years and biannual exams past 15 years of age.1

For dental treatment procedures or examinations, some horses, no matter their age, may require sedation and can benefit from using DORMOSEDAN® (detomidine hydrocholoride). DORMOSEDAN is a non-narcotic equine sedative and analgesic that can be used safely for minor surgical and diagnostic procedures — and it is especially effective for sedation during dentistry procedures. It allows dosing flexibility, so veterinarians can accurately regulate the depth and length of sedation and analgesia.

To closely monitor the oral health of your horse, team up with your veterinarian to learn how to correctly check the condition of your horse’s teeth. You can take notice of changing dental surfaces and care for them before any complications arise.

Learn the ins and outs of horse health in AQHA's "Your Horse's Health" DVD series. In these discs, get up-to-date information on the latest medical information and diseases from veterinarians Tom Lenz and Kenton Morgan. This DVD set would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for the horse owner in your family or circle of friends.

Learn more at, where you can check out a dosing chart and watch a video about DORMOSEDAN.

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Important Safety Information: As with other a2 agonists, bradycardia and partial AV and SA blocks can occur with decreased respiratory rates. Occasional reports of anaphylactic-like reactions have been observed. The use of epinephrine should be avoided since epinephrine may potentiate the effects of a2 agonists. For complete details, refer to the full prescribing information, or go to

1 American Association of Equine Practitioners. Equine Dental Care: What Every Horse Owner Should Know. 2008. Available at: Accessed October 29, 2013.
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture. Equine ’98, Part I: Baseline Reference of 1998 Equine Health and Management. Available at:, Accessed October 29, 2013.
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