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AAEP Launching Equine Dentistry Campaign

April 10, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

Because proper dental care is vital to a horse's overall health, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in April launched a year-long campaign to promote the need for horses to receive a thorough oral examination at least once a year.

It is important to catch dental problems early. Horses with dental problems might be obvious in showing they're experiencing pain or irritation, or they might show no noticeable signs at all. But left undiagnosed and untreated, a dental problem can develop into a much more significant health concern. In a 2006 study of horses suffering from chronic weight loss, 20% of the horses experienced weight loss due to dental disorders.

In addition to weight loss, the inability to chew feed into small particles can lead to colic, and the bacteria associated with gum disease in the horse's mouth can migrate to other areas of the body, similar to what occurs with gum disease in humans.

“Routine dental maintenance is the easiest step an owner can take to prevent a more serious problem from developing,” said Eleanor M. Green, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ABVP, AAEP president. “When you schedule vaccinations or a Coggin's test for your horse, this is the perfect opportunity to schedule a dental examination with your horse's veterinarian as well.”

During April, the AAEP's “Ask the Vet” feature on will focus on equine dentistry. Lynn Caldwell, DVM, and Elizabeth Schilling, DVM, of the Equine Dentistry Committee will answer questions from horse owners about dental health. In addition, a variety of educational articles and resources about equine dentistry are available on the AAEP Web site. Visit to learn more.