Braces for Horses?

Q:I read in another magazine that you can have braces put on a horse for an overbite. Naturally, in the article there was no contact information. How can I find out about this? I have a super nice filly that is show quality except for the overbite. If you could help me find out where to start looking for a qualified person to do it, I would really appreciate your help. If I can get this corrected on my filly, I will show her.      


A:Whether orthodontics or surgical intervention is necessary or recommended for an overbite is best determined by a veterinarian with special training and experience in equine dentistry. The basic goal in managing an overbite (parrot mouth) in young, growing horses is to prevent the upper jaw from outpacing the growth of the lower jaw. This is usually accomplished through a combination of approaches. First, and most important, any abnormalities of wear that have developed in the cheek teeth and incisors should be corrected and prevented from recurring. Depending on the severity of the case, this might be all that is necessary to allow the lower jaw to reach the same length as the upper jaw.

Other measures might include tension wires placed inside the mouth to inhibit further lengthening of the horse's upper jaw. There are also temporary and semi-permanent bite plates that can be applied to fit between the upper and lower incisors to prevent the upper jaw from entrapping the lower jaw. Maintenance of wires and bite plates in a horse's mouth requires meticulous attention to hygiene and the horse's need to eat and drink normally. There are also surgical options for truly severe parrot mouths that involve breaking certain bones and resetting them in a more normal position.

The best thing that you can do for your young horse is to have a veterinarian with an extensive background in equine dentistry evaluate her as soon as possible. Early intervention can be critical to a successful outcome.

If your own veterinarian is not experienced in advanced equine dental techniques, he or she should be able to refer you to someone in your area who is. If not, you can contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners at 800/443-0177 or through their web site at

About the Author

Mary DeLorey, DVM

Mary S. DeLorey, DVM earned her veterinary degree from University of Missouri in 1992. Since 2000, she has devoted her entire professional energies to equine dentistry. Her practice, Northwest Equine Dentistry, Inc. serves the states of Washington and Idaho and is based near Seattle. Dr. DeLorey has traveled internationally to instruct veterinarians in equine dentistry techniques and speaks to horse owners nationwide. She trail rides and raises sport ponies from her ranch in Eastern Washington when she's not on the road.

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