Articles

Canines and Bit Seats

by Larry Kimberlin, D.V.M. D.V.M. FAVD, CVPP, DAVDC

In this article we are going to stay in the front of the mouth and talk about a group of teeth that the horse doesn’t need and a set of teeth that if handled properly can make a larger influence than most other dental procedures on the performance and comfort of the performance horse. The first teeth that we are going to cover are the teeth that the modern horse does not need. These are the canine teeth. These are the long pointed teeth that you will see between the incisors and the first cheek teeth. The canine teeth have sometimes been referred as the “fighting” teeth as this seems to be their only use. Stallions use these teeth to bite and fight with their adversaries. There are two pairs, an upper(maxillary) and lower(mandibular). They are not always present in both pairs- sometimes only one pair is present and occur in only 25-30% of mares. They erupt at about 4 years of age. The problem with canines is that they crowd the front of the mouth when you are trying to put the bit in. They are the most likely teeth to build tartar and can sometimes cause ulcers and sores on the tongue. When the equine dentist works on the mouth we usually burr these teeth down and round and polish the edges. It makes it much more comfortable for working in the mouth – such as bitting and giving meds and wormers. The pictures below shows a horse with canines before and after reduction. Note the ulcers on this horse's tongue caused by trapping of the tongue against the canines.   The other topic that I described was the “bit seat”. A bit seat refers to rounding of the leading edge of the first cheek teeth. The first cheek tooth actually refers to the second premolar (the wolf tooth is the first premolar and remember we remove them to allow comfort with the bit). These teeth have sharp leading edges that come in contact with the bit when in the mouth. By rounding the edge and sloping the tooth toward the gum slightly, it makes the bit “seat” more comfortably in the mouth. It also reduces the pinch that occurs in the side of the mouth where rein pulls against this area. The application of a bit seat seems to provide a great deal of difference in the handling and acceptance the bit to the majority of horses. Most people that compete on their horse, such as barrel racers, have begun to expect a bit seat on the routine performance dentistry. The pictures below illustrate the shape of the upper and lower teeth after the bit seat: These teeth are often overlooked by horse owners, but attention to them can make a big difference in the comfort of the horse and, in the end, the rider. Dr. Kimberlin is the Co-author of Atlas of Clinical Imaging and Anatomy of the Equine Head
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Northeast Texas Veterinary Dental Center

8414 Wesley Street Greenville, TX 75402 903-454-1563 info@crossroadsvetclinic.com
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Articles

Canines and Bit Seats

by Larry Kimberlin, D.V.M. D.V.M. FAVD,

CVPP, DAVDC

In this article we are going to stay in the front of the mouth and talk about a group of teeth that the horse doesn’t need and a set of teeth that if handled properly can make a larger influence than most other dental procedures on the performance and comfort of the performance horse. The first teeth that we are going to cover are the teeth that the modern horse does not need. These are the canine teeth. These are the long pointed teeth that you will see between the incisors and the first cheek teeth. The canine teeth have sometimes been referred as the “fighting” teeth as this seems to be their only use. Stallions use these teeth to bite and fight with their adversaries. There are two pairs, an upper(maxillary) and lower(mandibular). They are not always present in both pairs- sometimes only one pair is present and occur in only 25-30% of mares. They erupt at about 4 years of age. The problem with canines is that they crowd the front of the mouth when you are trying to put the bit in. They are the most likely teeth to build tartar and can sometimes cause ulcers and sores on the tongue. When the equine dentist works on the mouth we usually burr these teeth down and round and polish the edges. It makes it much more comfortable for working in the mouth – such as bitting and giving meds and wormers. The pictures below shows a horse with canines before and after reduction. Note the ulcers on this horse's tongue caused by trapping of the tongue against the canines.   The other topic that I described was the “bit seat”. A bit seat refers to rounding of the leading edge of the first cheek teeth. The first cheek tooth actually refers to the second premolar (the wolf tooth is the first premolar and remember we remove them to allow comfort with the bit). These teeth have sharp leading edges that come in contact with the bit when in the mouth. By rounding the edge and sloping the tooth toward the gum slightly, it makes the bit “seat” more comfortably in the mouth. It also reduces the pinch that occurs in the side of the mouth where rein pulls against this area. The application of a bit seat seems to provide a great deal of difference in the handling and acceptance the bit to the majority of horses. Most people that compete on their horse, such as barrel racers, have begun to expect a bit seat on the routine performance dentistry. The pictures below illustrate the shape of the upper and lower teeth after the bit seat: These teeth are often overlooked by horse owners, but attention to them can make a big difference in the comfort of the horse and, in the end, the rider. Dr. Kimberlin is the Co-author of Atlas of Clinical Imaging and Anatomy of the Equine Head

Northeast Texas Veterinary

Dental Center

8414 Wesley Street Greenville, TX 75402 903.454-1563 info@crossroadsvetclinic.com Appointments:    9 a.m.– 5 p.m. Monday-Friday Open for animal drop-off    at 7:30 a.m.