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Equine Health Resource

Geriatric Dental Disease

Synonyms: Old Horse Dental Conditions

Old horses tend to suffer from a variety of dental conditions, some of which can cause other health related problems including weight loss, signs of abdominal pain (colic), and large colon impactions.

Dental overgrowths that contact soft tissues can cause pain; lost and loose teeth reduce the grinding area available for proper processing of feed; periodontal pockets forming from gaps between teeth (diastema) can cause eating to be painful.

Geriatric dentistry involves preserving the teeth and their pain-free function for as long as possible. This is not simply a “float.” It involves periodic careful examination and treatment of problems.

Treatment of periodontal disease and diastema can greatly improve the quality of life for older horses. Vets often evaluate the general health of old horses (not just their mouth and teeth), to ensure that they can tolerate sedation and any dental procedures performed.


Recognize the importance of the dental healthcare in older horses. Incorporate regular dental exams into your preventative healthcare regime for all of your horses, especially your older horses. Recognize that other health related issues may arise out of a dental problem.

Conversely, recognize that chronic conditions like PPID can actually contribute to poor oral health (chronic oral infections and sinusitis). Maintain optimal general health.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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