Equine injuries such as wounds or soft tissue swellings are usually easy to recognize. Problems that are not visible to the eye, however, may go unnoticed. Take dental problems, for example. These often go unnoticed because cheek teeth cannot be easily seen and are dangerous to examine without proper equipment.
There are some subtle clinical signs, however, that can alert the owner about a dental or oral problem, so it is important that he or she be on the lookout for these and schedule routine dental check-ups. A complete examination requires sedating the horse, keeping his or her mouth open with a speculum and using a strong light source and a dental mirror to visualize all the cheek teeth. It also involves manually checking for loose teeth or other problems.
Some conditions are unique to the growing or geriatric horse, while others can occur at any age. The following are the most commonly seen signs of dental problems and their possible causes.