Six months ago I examined a 12 year old mare to see if she was pregnant. As she wasn't we made an appointment for her and her paddock-mates to have their teeth attended to.
When we examined her mouth she was found to have sharp points and various other changes, which were corrected at the time. The changes were not extreme and were routinely corrected.
I heard nothing more for 6 months when the owner asked me back to re-examine the mare as she thought she may still be pregnant, as she had put on a lot of weight. I examined the mare once again and sure enough she was definitely not pregnant. The owner was amazed that the horse had put on the weight – and indeed she was fat! The owner then told me this mare NEVER put on weight out in the paddock – she always lost weight and looked a little lean, except this time around. The diet had not changed from previous years. In fact the only thing that had changed was that this year the teeth had been examined and treated for the first time. I think she may be a believer in equine dentistry!
Speaking of success stories, I revisited a horse whose teeth I examined and treated about 2 months ago. On that occasion he had some serious problems. I suspect that someone in the past had used a Swales, or spring, gag on this horse. The swales gag is usually a coiled steel "spring" that slides up the side of the horse's mouth between the two first molars to hold the mouth open. Unlike the full mouth speculum these gags have a single point of pressure on these teeth, and if the horse bites down hard enough it can put enough pressure to split that tooth right down the middle. And that's what I found in this unfortunate horse's mouth. His tooth had split and was now separated so that the two halves pointed towards his tongue and his cheek respectively, with a big space up the middle full of decaying fermenting feed. There was ulceration of the cheek and scrapes in the tongue. He also had very sharp edges and ulceration of his cheeks from his other teeth.
On that original visit the sharp points and other pathologies were corrected. When I returned to remove the tooth, the owner reported that he used to take ages to eat and was always the slowest of the horses to eat his feed, but that he was now the first to finish eating and was even pinching some food from the others. Now that the tooth is out I have no doubt that he will be even better. He has put on a fair bit of weight and is looking very happy, as is his owner (happy that is – not putting on weight!)
It is great to be able to help these horses feel better, eat better and do better. And the best part is that when I am leaving the owner says "See you next time!" rather than, "No offence but I hope I don't see you again!" That really makes my day.