Understanding Your Equine Dental Chart
Understanding the medical terminology on your equine dental chart will clarify any questions you may have.
Excessive Transverse Ridges (ETR)
#1 on your horse’s dental chart is ETR. Horses should have transverse ridges running across the surface of the teeth. It is important for the mastication process of grinding and chewing food. However, Excessive Transverse Ridges are much more pronounced than typical transverse ridging. ETR can restrict the horse’s TMJ and interferes with lateral mandible movement. Typically this exaggerated ridging will need to be reduced on two or three separate visits.
Accentuated Transverse Ridges (ATR)
#2 on the dental chart is ATR. This is a similar problem as ETR except it is more severe ridging. This is from improper wear of the teeth. It is typical in horses that are stalled a lot and fed processed feeds.
#3 listed on your dental chart is hooks. Hooks develop due to the misalignment of the molar arcades. This is often related to problems with the incisors. If there are any misalignments in the horse’s mouth the teeth will not wear properly. The part of the tooth which is not in any contact will erupt and get more and more pronounced. This is why hooks will get bigger over time. Hooks will restrict the anterior/posterior and lateral movement of the mandible, and large hooks will cause extreme discomfort often leading to quidding, weight loss, colic, and sores.
#4 listed on your dental chart is ramps. These are similar to hooks but have a more gradual slope to the tooth and can also be on the front or back, upper or lower molars. Ramps on the first lower cheek teeth can cause pinching of the soft tissue on the lower bars and can affect the way the horse holds the bit in his mouth. Ramps will also inhibit the natural anterior and posterior movement of the mandible which is very important to any performance horse being ridden.
#5 listed is step mouth. A step occurs when one cheek tooth is longer than the rest of the arcade. This occurs when a horse is either missing a cheek tooth or the opposed tooth is severely damaged. It can also occur because of different rates of eruptions from opposing molars. This causes the opposed tooth to “super erupt” and become much longer than the rest. This will restrict anterior and posterior mandible movement and lateral excursion. The step will gradually have to be reduced on a six month basis.
#6 listed is wave mouth. This condition occurs in only about 2-19% cases. It is common in horses over the age of 12 who previously had not had regular dental work. The term wave mouth is used to describe the uneven wear of the molar arcades. The molar arcade is higher and gradually gets lower and then higher similar to how one would envision a wave. Wave mouths are very difficult to correct especially with older horses and will require several visits from the dentist to attempt to correct.
#7 listed is a dorsal curvature. This is when the incisors curve downwards making it look like the teeth are frowning. It causes the cheek teeth table angles to be steep. It is best corrected by realigning the incisor arcades with power tools. Minor cases can be done with hand floats.