When The Yearly Dental Float Is Not Enough

Standard equine dentistry recommendation – a once yearly dental float performed by a veterinarian dental specialist.

Usually enough, easy peasy.  Until it’s not.

My mare has thrown all vets for a loop with having an awesome looking bite, ending with the standard comment that once per year should be enough next time…  But it has never been enough.

Today’s post is for those of you who may be in the same boat – maybe without knowing.

Her first dental was when she was a little shy of 3 1/2 years old, a few months after bringing her home.  Simple, routine, and with a couple of wolf teeth extracted.

horse dental floats three times per year
Don’t have any pics from Twisted Oak Ranch, so let’s do these, never posted from D.A.

Next float 11 months later, still before turning 4 1/2 years old – she’d started pocketing some hay in her mouth.  The dental showed she’d developed some soreness from transverse ridges deep up inside.

All routine, got a green light to wait another year to float.

Next float 10 1/2 months later, well before 5 1/2 years old, she’d been telling me for a full month that something was “uncomfortable.”  There was a “scent” to her breath, and she’d started stopping under saddle during work sometimes.

Sure enough, deeper, and more painful looking sores showed up high up in her mouth where the sharp edges of the teeth had cut deep in her cheeks.  Vet still recommended  waiting the standard 1 year – still considering her routine and she’d be all mature next time.

floating teeth more often


Just 5 1/2 months later, before turning 6, I still had her in a dental clinic – the vet told me he was sure he wouldn’t find anything – but nope, this time she’d developed the beginnings of a small wave, tiny hooks in the front, and yes, some more sores from transverse ridges!

This vet recommended waiting 9 months until next time.  Of course, within 4 months I was already wondering if the tiny, cuts were starting to develop in there, bothering her.  Wouldn’t you?


Horse in outdoor shelter with window
Valiosa peeking out of her outdoor shelter we built her at Twisted Oak Ranch

Because spending half a day, giving up training time, and wasting money is a horse owner’s specialty, we spent time trailering to the equine dental specialist a couple of weeks ago!

Sure enough, exactly 5 months after last float, there was a tiny wave, and the beginnings of sore spots up on the cheeks.

Being your own advocate, so worth it sometimes.

Sticking to that 6 month schedule for some time…

16 thoughts on “When The Yearly Dental Float Is Not Enough

    1. This all has really thrown me for a loop. Researching on line you’ll find mostly very young horses needing their teeth done 2/year. I couldn’t find anything on having to check them every 5 months into adulthood. Really hope we’re on the straight and steady now!


    1. I hope so too!!
      This vet told me their teeth change in “hardness” once they turn 12. And then again of course at 18-20 or so. I’m going to be on high alert until 12. Yay, more $ to spend!


    1. Agreed!
      What was confusing was that each dentist (because I’ve used a large really good equine clinic that have a good sized staff, so we’ve worked with several different vets.) said the same thing – she should be good to go for a year.
      Now I know better 😉

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  1. Good job, paying close attention to what your mare is telling you. So sorry she is an expensive dental patient! It must be something about her bite. Sad to say, it may continue. But maybe not! Maybe it will gradually work its way out and you’ll be able to stretch those intervals to something more normal. If it’s any consolation, Star’s teeth are a bit finicky, too (although we’re more like “every 9 months” rather than the short intervals you have). I wonder how many horses really can comfortably go a whole year?

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    1. I remember us talking about this a year ago or so, when she had bigger problems. The tricky thing was that she seemed to develop problems earlier and earlier ugh! This last time was only 5 months, sigh.
      Well, I’ll be sticking to 6 months now. Not worth chancing it.

      And agree with you – definitely thing that there are many horses that are really uncomfortable with going a full year…


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