Last Updated on July 26, 2022
Like with people, dental care is an important aspect of horse care. Understanding the percent of dental occlusion in horses can help horse owners get a better idea of how a horse’s teeth work. There is a lot of care and work that goes into equine dentistry.
Throughout the different stages of life, horses have different dental needs. As they age, their teeth change and so does the care they need. Providing proper dental care and understanding different dental problems that can occur is important to the well-being of your horse.
What Is Occlusion In Horses?
Occlusion simply means contact and refers to how the teeth are aligned in a horse’s skull. It is important for a horse to have proper molar and incisor contact are necessary for a horse to eat forage.
The mandible, or lower jaw, should be directly below the maxilla, upper jaw, at rest. To check this, raise your horse’s nose to eye level and open the lips. You should see the lower incisors directly under the upper incisors.
The contact surface between these teeth should be parallel to the ground in a straight line. When the lower jaw is pushed to the side the incisors will stay touching until the molar arcades, lower and upper, touch one another. If the incisors appear to have an abnormal shape or are too long, the molars will not be able to grind food properly.
Deviance from normal can result in malocclusions, which can be problematic. Malocclusions can either be from how the horse was born (skeletal malocclusions) or individual teeth with their relationship with other teeth (dental malocclusions). Horses 15 years or older need yearly examinations to evaluate occlusion and other dental problems that can come with age.
Percent Of Dental Occlusion In Horses
The approximate distance the lower jaw moves laterally can be split into percent molar contact and percent incisor contact. The lateral excursion when incisors remain in contact increases in percent, the percent the molars are in contact will decrease.
Some horses will have molars that remain in contact for such a short distance that the horse can’t adequately grind food. In this case, the percent of molar contact has been described as 30% or less. When the percent of molar occlusion is near 30% or less, it is time to take into consideration shortening the incisors.
Classes Of Occlusion
Equine malocclusions are classified into four different categories. These categories are class 1 to 4, with the addition of class 0, which is normal occlusion.
Class 1 is known as neutrocclusion. This is when a horse has a normal jaw length of both the maxilla and the mandible, however, the teeth are crowded and displaced. This includes a mesial, distal, lingual, buccal or palatal orientation.
In Class 2, it is known as distoclusion. This is where a horse has either a short mandible or a long maxilla.
Class 3 is known as mesioclusion, where a horse has either a long mandible or short maxilla. In Class 4 it is known as mesiodistoclusion, where one jaw is in mesioclusion and the other in distoclusion.
Treatments For Occlusion – Percent Of Dental Occlusion In Horses
A veterinarian or equine dentist can diagnose occlusion and horses and proceed with a treatment plan from there depending on the cause and type. Oftentimes, floating can be used as a way to treat malocclusions.
Malocclusions can happen from teeth being worn, missing, fractured, or misaligned. This then causes the tooth opposite to become too long as the tooth continues to erupt. By floating the teeth, a dentist can safely file the teeth down to make adjustments to how the teeth contour.
How Often Should A Horse Get Its Teeth Floated?
Generally, horses should have their teeth examined twice a year until all their permanent teeth are in, and then once a year. After horses turn 20, they should generally have their teeth examined twice a year.
During a dental examination, the equine dentist will observe the state of the horse’s teeth and any problems that might have developed. As horses age, their teeth change and they need different care. Common teeth problems include sharp edges, teeth that don’t match up, and missing or broken teeth.
Oftentimes a horse will have their teeth floated once a year as an adult and every six months until all or their permanent teeth are in. In some cases, performance horses may need their teeth floated every six months.
What Is The Cost Of Horse Dental Care?
Generally, it costs between $80-$200 to get a horse’s teeth floated. It can cost around $20-$80 for any extractions and around $10-$30 for extraction fees.
Maintaining A Horse’s Teeth
Dental care is very important for horses, as good teeth are vital for them to be able to chew forage. Occlusion is a common problem for horses, but fortunately, it can often be treated by floating and dental care.
Do you have any questions regarding the percent of occlusion dental in horses? If so, please ask any questions regarding horse dental care in the comments.
What is Normal Dental Occlusion?
Normal dental occlusion for horses is class 0 on the equine malocclusions classifications. The mandible should be directly below the maxilla at rest, with the lower incisors resting under the upper incisors.
How is Dental Occlusion Measured?
Dental occlusion is measured by the approximate distance the lower jaw moves laterally and can be split into percent molar contact and percent incisor contact. The lateral excursion when incisors remain in contact increases in percent, the percent the molars are in contact will decrease.
What Are the 3 Classes of Occlusion?
In horses, there are four different categories, classes 1 to 4, with the addition of class 0, which is normal occlusion. Class 1 is neutrocclusion, class 2 is distoclusion, class 3 is mesioclusion, and class 4 is mesiodistoclusion.
What is a Good Occlusion?
With good occlusion, the mandible, or lower jaw, should be directly below the maxilla, upper jaw, at rest. You should see the lower incisors directly under the upper incisors, with the contact surface between these teeth should be parallel to the ground in a straight line. To check this, raise your horse's nose to eye level and open the lips.