Age to start dental care

I have a coming 2yr old, since I am getting my riding mares teeth checked I thought I would have the yearlings teeth checked also.
Someone told me she is too young but I think it can’t hurt to have a look and see what’s going on in there.

Would you have a yearlings mouth/teeth checked? Would you expect them to need a float?

I would have the dentist take a look once a year on a youngster. It’s nice to make sure everything is erupting as expected and to keep an eye out for any defects in alignment developing that might impact chewing or tooth wear down the road. There are a lot of changes in the mouth going on during the growth phase. I would not expect much to happen work wise unless there is a issue, perhaps smooth down a sharp point here or there.


Agree. Plus it is not too long until caps will start coming off and you will have more interest and concerns about the mouth. Better the horse and dentist are aquatinted.


We start having dental checks the spring of their yearling year. Gets horse used to mouth handling, wearing the mouthpieces to hold jaws open during flashlight look-see, hand reaching in to feel teeth edges and check for wolf teeth.

So MUCH easier to pop out wolf teeth when tiny, than waiting another year or more. Most of ours don’t even need sedation to get the bitty teeth out. As older horses they stand quietly for mouth work, done by hand. No machinery in their mouths used here. Way too easy to remove lots more tooth FAST, than horse needed off. Or tooth getting overheated, killed, with the grinder on it. No putting-back-on tools to fix that.


great points thank you

My horse was just coming 7 when I bought him. I was told a the time that you should have them checked a couple of times each year unitl they are about because they develop quickly. If a problem is cropping up you can catch it early. Same idea when he hit his 20s.

HIs teeth were doing well for his age but he developed a gap (diastema) between the teeth and gum along 3-4" in one area. People said he was quidding. He wasn’t. It doesn’t look anything like quidding. Totally finely chewed forage would accumulate and sometimes didn’t drop out, although he helped when he needed to. He dropped a wad one day when we were out for a walk. The next day he snatched it up and finished it. Yummy.

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There is no reason a dentist/DVM can’t do an exam. I started my last youngster’s major dental journey at 2 because I knew we would be under saddle within the year, although she did get an exam as a weanling. Their teeth change A LOT when they are young, and often times defects can be found early and maintained properly.

PS I had this mare examined by my DVM when she was 5-6 months old because she was storing grain in her cheeks like a squirrel. My DVM and I laughed about it, and determined that she just couldn’t figure out how to chew it (it was a more sticky Growth type commercial feed).

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I have never had a youngster need their teeth floated but I always have the vet check everyones teeth when they are here. None of my horses get floated routinely but we just do them " as needed" by the vets exams, or if I notice something in between times ( happened once).


I purchased my horse when he was just over a year old. I had the vet come out for vaccines and a dental exam. It appeared to me that he did have wolf teeth so I wanted those extracted as well. So his first appointment was at about 1.5 years, and I’ll keep going annually unless I notice anything that warrants an appointment sooner. His wolf teeth were huge, and the extraction was a little rough on one side, and he was sedated. He healed up just fine. Just a small float needed.


I usually wait until two on the advice of several different vets, but my current yearling has a weird swelling on the side of her face, so I took a look inside. Does not appear to be any abscess or ulcers inside her cheek, but I noticed her teeth are SHARP and pointy. The vet said she can take a look to make sure they aren’t causing problems.

If I don’t notice any problems, I wait until they’re two, but nothing says you can’t have a vet take a look before that.

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I see most recomendations above refer to a vet. Around me there are many non-vet tooth floaters calling themselves equine dentists.

We use a Horse Dentist instead of a Vet. He is more experienced than a Vet in working with teeth, because he sees more horse mouths. Like a Farrier, they are a specialist. You don’t call the Vet to do feet, trim or shoe, not their specialty. Though they can be very knowledgeable about hooves.

Our Dentist does not drug horses, not qualified for that. He can work with Vet who is qualified to sedate horses.

I am sure if there was one available a horse dentist would be great. :slight_smile:

Many states do not allow non-vets to practice dental. I also consulted with a very good equine dentist in another state and he echoed what the vets had said.

Not uncommon but certainly not legal for them to practice unless they are with a vet or based at a vet clinic.

It was shocking , years back, how many people around here were using an " equine dentist" alone and allowing him to sedate (as well) at their farms with no vet present.

Same thing for chiropractic. They should also be a dvm( if I remember correctly) ??

I didn’t know that until my vet informed me. I always use my vets for floating and never had chiro done on a horse before…

The following states allow non-veterinarians to practice equine dentistry.


In 2014 the specialty practice of equine dentistry with specialty board certification via the DVM/VMD route was established. Board certified equine dentists are still quite rare. I was able to find only 27 such trained specialists listed as practicing in the USA.

I do not know the specific pathway to achieve this status other than it requires 3 to 6 years of training after veterinary school. This makes sense because board certification in human oral surgery also requires a minimum of 4 years of post-dental school residency training, so paths to board certification are at least comparable in time.

My point is that people practicing as equine dentists equine range widely in background, education, training, and experience.

Not many Vets around here are that skilled at floating teeth. Some actually recommend calling a horse dentist because they DO NOT want to do tooth work. Some Vets use grinders, not real skilled with them. We know multiple cases of tooth damage from using grinders.

We have a horse dentist who uses hand tools, does great work. Horses stand quietly for him to do the work. He keeps careful records, plus referring to my notes on my copy for each horse, before starting. I prefer not having to sedate by doing teeth by hand. He does get a workout with our 8-9 horses to check and work on!

Can you link where you found this please? I’d like to see who all is “educated” in my state. Thanks!

Here is a starting point.

There are plenty of non DVM equine dentists that practice in Michigan as well. They have gone to school for it, but they are not licensed DVM’s. :slight_smile:

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