Farming for the fun of it since1998!
Jim, Frankie, and Ryan Lee
      13903 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL        
Lesson Six
Donkey Dentistry - not a fad or gimmick, but real dental health care info for all miniature donkey owners

Miniature Donkey Care is easy when you know what to do!
UF, April 2009, "Proper dental care is a leading factor in the prevention of premature health issues in donkeys."
Updated 1-21-21
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Domestication has dramatically altered the equine diet. At the Michigan State University’s McPhail Equine Performance Center it has been shown,
using infrared tracking of biomechanical function, that full and correct jaw movement during chewing is habitual only when eating soft—grassy--types of
feed. Pellets, hard cracked grains, and dry coarse feeds cause a shortened lateral (sideways) range of motion. Pellets can, however, be a good option
for recovering or senior horses.

Altered patterns of mastication can cause or exacerbate unequal wear across occlusal tooth surfaces, accelerate the formation of buccal points, and
contribute to major unnatural restrictions in the equine mandible.

Malocclusions can start as early as 2½ years of age when deciduous caps start loosening and through the fifth or sixth year, when uneven timing of
permanent tooth eruption causes uneven loss of premolar caps. Long term uneven pressure (mechanical pressure) on teeth can actually rock teeth in
their bony sockets. Over time this may lead to periodontal disease, loosening and infections, and result in avoidable tooth loss at relatively young ages
for horses, donkeys and mules.

Signs to look for include:

Long or out of proportion front teeth are not normal. Incisors on most 5 ½ to 6 year olds are naturally correct. They should also be LEVEL. This is EASY
to check.
Dropping large amounts of food. Holding their face up or sideways to chew.                 
Constantly raising their head to chew when grazing.
Regular coughing or choking.
These can all be caution signs.

Poor body and coat condition, especially in older horses, may be resulting from poor nutrition caused by an inability to grind food well. (Equine digestive
systems are different from humans or cows!)

Many horses have skeletal conformations, in the throatlatch area that do not allow free use of their necks with some types of dental malocclusions.

At the very least, proper balancing, not just a “float,” can increase teeth longevity and chewing efficiency. In the worst case scenarios, it could prevent
colic or choke or avoid a serious riding accident. Not to mention, how much impact these problems may have on your animals daily comfort.

“It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding." Kahlil Gibran
Dental Health Tips
By Cindy Allen EqDT
Printed with permission