Over time, due to the chewing action of the jaws, as well as other factors, the teeth can develop areas of uneven wear, such as hooks, ramps, and waves. This can cause difficulties in chewing, which leads to weight loss, colic and choke (the latter two due to the horse swallowing incompletely chewed forage and grain).
To prevent this, an equine dentist (either your vet, or a specialized equine dentist accompanied by a vet) files down the surfaces of the teeth to smooth out any uneven surfaces. This is called floating. It is typically done once a year. Even though the pics below may appear torturous or uncomfortable for Limerick, rest assured that horses are sedated for the procedure and are much more comfortable than they appear.
In fact, I'd venture to say they are far more comfortable than us humans in the dental chair--eek!
Lim's teeth were not terrible, but she had some hooks up front and the vet, Dr. Coveyou of Fox Valley Equine, smoothed out a couple of chipped incisors.
|Power-filing (power-floating) the molars|
|Hand-filing the chipped incisors|
|Drowsy Lim got a bath to cool her off when she was alert enough to walk!|