Dentistry is probably the most important, yet often overlooked health practice we can provide for our horses. Properly done, it can lead to balanced body functions, that in turn improve performance, improve health and even prolong life. Poor equine dentistry on the other hand increases pain, contributes to lameness, and leads to neurological imbalance with a host of negative ramifications. Minor imbalances in the mouth transmit through the spinal and skeletal system , creating imbalance somewhere else as the body tries to compensate, and create a pseudo balance. These erroneous “corrections” result in muscles being strained, joints over stressed, are major factors in dysfunction and pain. It all starts when they are young.
Our paradigm in Natural Balance Equine Dentistry is to maximize surface to surface contact of all teeth, the upper and lower molar arcades and incisors, within the anatomically correct parameters of each individual. Doing so restores anterior/posterior movement and the correct lateral motion of the jaw as well as the natural guidance, rotation and function to the TMJ. It is accomplished by removing the least amount of tooth possible, while achieving maximum results.
Nature created a balanced system for the horse. They would graze between 14 and 18 hours a day on grasses that contain silicas which naturally wore down the teeth. The front teeth wore at about the same rate they continually erupted-- a Naturally Balanced system. The length and angle of the front teeth were meant to be equal to that of today’s 5 year old domestic horse. They would remain that way throughout the rest of the hors’s lifetime. Through domestication, we have altered the horse’s natural patterns of grazing, diet and physical activity. In addition to confinement reducing grazing activity, the cultivated grasses of today have less of an abrasive action than natural habitat, thus compounding the problem.
With a drastically altered lifestyle, the front teeth of domestic horses usually exceeds the length and angle evolution dictated. Once this happens, it causes an abnormal rotation of the TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint); the joint where the jaw hinges to the skull. The rotation of this joint controls the wear pattern of the molars.
The purpose of equine dentistry is to remove painful issues which cause inefficiencies that limit the horse’s bio-mechanical function. When restoring that bio-mechanical function, effects are manifest through the entire body. Many health and performance problems are a direct result of improperly maintained teeth. The application of proper techniques to float and balance your horse's mouth is critical to the performance, health and quality of life of your horse. This is accomplished through a thorough knowledge of dental anatomy, understanding of bio-mechanics and the most sophisticated instrumentation available.
A Team Approach
Since equine oral bio mechanics are part of a larger system, it is important to work as a team to achieve corrections. This may involve working with acupuncturists, body work or chiropractic. Some modalities require a veterinarian to perform, or to supervise. Wendy works with equine therapeutic modality experts around the country to round out your horse's treatment protocol.