Dentistry Through X-Ray


By: Rebekah Brady, DVM

As a last look at “Dental Health Month,” let’s bring to light how helpful radiology can be in Equine Dentistry. As we already know, poor dental care can be a leading cause for a multitude of medical problems; weight loss/hard keepers, inappetence, holding head at an angle, head shaking, sinus infections, etcetera. Lets take a closer look inside this mouth, exactly what does it look like in there?

Take a look at the following images: These images display a before and after dental procedure where all the teeth were floated, with one extraction.

Before Dental Procedure

Before Dental Procedure

After Dental Procedure

After Dental Procedure

At first glance, it looks MUCH better right? Of course, we have our palpation skills to reach the back of the mouth to assure there is no remaining pathology, but that doesn’t tell us anything about the roots of the teeth, the integrity of those roots, or the nature of the sinus cavities. Let’s see the rest of the story…..


This is the x-ray image obtained after this horses’ dental procedure was complete. WOW! To give you a reference, lets take a look at a normal mouth.


If you’ll notice, there is consolidation of the sinus (area above the teeth), this area is supposed to be nice and black/clear. Also, the roots of the teeth are not as apparent or bold as the bottom image, proving chronic infection has taken it’s toll. There are large ramps (hooks) in the very back of the mouth, there is so much more information a veterinarian can gather from just one or two images of the mouth.

As Veterinarians, we recommend an oral examination twice a year with a routine dental float once or twice a year depending on speed of eruption of teeth, or if severe abnormalities exist.

Southern Equine Service can provide this care for your horse. Veterinarians are trained to not only provide the routine care, but as you can see, dig deeper for the underlying issues that may be causing sickness or poor performance. Convenient times for an oral exam are during fall and spring vaccination schedules.

Southern Equine Service