Has anyone ever had a horse that’s had dental issues come up after a dental float?

A few weeks ago my vet came out for a routine dental exam and shots. My 5YO warmblood mare wasn’t showing any issues and has always been super easy to bridle and she has always been super light in the bridle as well. The only thing with her is that she’s always been awful about administering oral meds, or getting a dental exam/ float.

About 2.5 weeks ago now she got a few shots on both sides of her neck as well as a few blood draws on each side and she had her teeth floated. She essentially had the entire next week off, since I sprained my ankle and had to leave town for a funeral. I started lightly riding her about a week after and she is acting really strange about her mouth. I can still bridle her fine but she’s gaping her mouth, acting super stiff, crunching the bit which is super unlike her. I figured she might still be sore but it’s been a little while and she still seems super uncomfortable about her mouth. Has anyone had this?

Was it a power float? Could she have a loose or cracked tooth?
I had my horse floated on Monday. Power float. When I rode on Tuesday he was not quite his usual self… He was tense in his jaw and very heavy in my hand. I wasn’t sure if maybe he was feeling punky from the vaccines or maybe a little sore from the dental. So I gave him Wednesday and Thursday off. I plan to ride tomorrow and hopefully he’s better. I’ll check back in after I ride and share my experience. Obviously you’ve had more time between the dental and what you’re seeing now. Was the dental particularity long or involved?

1 Like

The other thing I was cautious about is that after the dental because I could not put him back into his stall as it was being cleaned he was still on the cross ties and heavily sedated… I was very conscious of the pressure that the halter was placing on his face so I disconnected him from the cross ties and just loosely tied his lead rope to the post… Just too many threads on here about what can happen when a halter presses against the nerves in the face.



That’s exactly what I’m finding.

Nope, this is only her second dental ever and it was much easier than her first one. She did have a few sharp points but she didn’t have any lesions in her mouth or anything.

Perhaps a call to the vet to have a look see in your horse’s mouth? Also (and this isn’t meant to make you feel defensive at all) how confident are you in your vet’s dentistry skills? Have you used him or her before for dentals with good results ? Do you think a chiropractor could asses your horse and check her jaw or poll area? And finally… with all things horses … trying to connect the dots is often frustrating and muddy. Is it an A causes B situation or not even remotely related ? I am jingling that you find some answers because I know what you’re going through !


I’m fairly confident in her skills, she always has me look in her mouth and feel as well and everything looked fine as far as my untrained eyes could see.
I know she’s not a specialist but she is a pretty highly respected vet in our area.

The only other dental I’ve had on my mare was when she had just turned 3 and was barely started under saddle. I probably was still riding her in a side pull rope halter back then so I wouldn’t have noticed anything weird. That one was super long and involved though because she had her wolf teeth removed but this one was super uneventful.

1 Like

The only weird thing I just remembered was that my vet did comment how she was still trying to chew and kept moving her tongue around during the whole procedure even though she was pretty heavily sedated. I’m wondering if she might have something going on with her jaw that made the procedure more painful than it should’ve been… :frowning_face:

1 Like

My horses’ chiropractor was out today and happened to mention that she often finds horses need their jaw adjusted after a float. Which makes me think - I wouldn’t be surprised if the neck might also need adjusting after a power float.


How was the mare’s head managed while her teeth were being done? Propped up on a cradle? Supported by an overhead sling? Hanging however she wanted it? And yes to the after-care - was she loose in her stall, head hanging how she wanted, or was she on cross ties with the halter holding her up?

It’s very conceivable that her poll is sore and it’s not actually her teeth


She had one of the vet techs holding it up and then after the procedure she was loose and just woke up in a stall.

There are many things to not like about power dentistry. Heavy sedation, hanging heads and the need to open their mouths much wider than a traditional hand float are a few. During a traditional hand float the patient’s mouth is opened less than 2 inches at the bite plates. 2 inches is all that’s necessary because the tools are more slender and hand can slip in to tight spaces for the exam. The power float on the other hand needs the mouth opened 3 1/2 inches in order to access the interiors of the mouth. They even have a video explaining their new speculum. This speculum has another feature that I really don’t like, the mouth is opened by using a screw jack mechanism which can achieve unlimited pressure in order to open the mouth. https://youtu.be/aY2DqLyXl5U
I would suggest finding a new dentist.


I guess I am just unlucky, but I have never owned a horse that allowed a hand float without sedation, so sedation to me is not a power float thing, but a floating thing.
I personally like the use of a speculum, for power or hand floats, because I want to the person doing the procedure to do the best job possible.


My vet doesn’t pry open mouths any farther for her power floats than she does for hand floats. She doesn’t change anything - not the speculum, not the head placement, not the sedation. She sedates to the horse’s need so he’s not flinging his head around. She used to use a cradle that stood on the ground, but a few years ago switched to a special halter (padded chin rest, among other things) that’s suspended by a rope over the rafters. She has found, and my horses agree, horses tend to like that a lot better than the cradle on a post. She can make adjustments up or down much more smoothly as well

Her power floating allows her to get the bulk of the work done faster (saves her body, keeps horses from needing more sedation for longer work), and then does finish work, and tushes, with the hand tools.

She hasn’t changed a thing in going to the power tool

1 Like

My old mare can’t handle dental work. Her jaw gets so sore, she can’t eat for days. I decided a couple years ago that I would not put her through that again unless something is painful.

I don’t really like getting dental work done on any of my horses but it’s a necessary evil. I do feel like dental work can do more harm then good, especially if it’s done incorrectly.

My old mare had her teeth floated so severely that the vet eliminated most of her chewing surfaces - when she couldn’t eat I took her to another dentist and they had missed a fractured tooth, as well as going overboard with the power float.

I decided my other horses will only get dental work every couple years- and only by the one person I trust to do the job correctly. Those power floats can remove too much tooth, too quickly. I do not have faith in most vets - they don’t have enough education in dental work to really do a good job.

Hope your horse turns out okay and is just a bit sore.


Absolutely. So can riding or trimming or chiropractic work or deworming :slight_smile: We need to always practice “do as little as possible but as much as necessary” when we do anything with/to the horse.

I’ve known horses with too much tooth removed from aggressive hand floating. The damage is done by the hands, not the tools - same goes for spurs and bits. My vet feels for what needs to be done, spends some short number of seconds with the power tool, feels again, and that’s the back and forth to make sure 1) she’s not removing too much tooth and 2) she’s not heating the tooth up.

1 Like

Well said @JB!

I have found that most (never say all, it is horses) times a power float is used the whole process takes less time too. A quick removal of any points (with the regular checks like JB describes) and all done. A very short time for the horse to be restrained, etc. So in the end, the use of those tools makes the whole process less traumatic

1 Like

My horse has a slight abnormality where an upper tooth is too short and the matching lower tooth is too long (possibly the reverse?). When my vet first began addressing this, he cautioned that it was possible that the floating might “stir up” underlying issues and that if I noticed any abnormal behavior post floating I should alert said vet. He suggested that x rays / other imaging of head/jaw would be in order should that occur. I believe vet was concerned the teeth in question might abscess or that some unknown factor causing the abnormality might be aggravated by the floating.

At any rate, my horse was totally fine post floating and continued regular floating and checks have produced lovely results.

Have you taken your horse’s temperature? Might give a clue if she is battling an infection!

Thanks for your reply! This was a pretty routine float and I talked to my vet and she said there wasn’t anything going on with her teeth that she would expect to be the issue now. She really thinks it’s a TMJ issue from the speculum and I think she’s right. I tried to ride my mare in a side pull and even that made her super uncomfortable from the poll pressure. I’m riding her around in a neck rope for now and I’m not lunging her, I’m just having her go around in the round pen or at liberty so there’s no poll pressure. But yea 3 weeks out and she’s still super uncomfortable… :flushed:

1 Like

Poor dear!

I’ve had lingering pain from dental procedures due to the way my mouth was positioned.

Hope she feels better soon!

1 Like