Many people know that equine dentistry is important because sharp enamel points on the sides of the premolars and molars can cause sores (ulcers) along the cheeks– causing pain. But it goes much deeper than that.
The TMJ- Tempormandibular joint- is the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. It normally moves forward to backward and side to side. Any abnormalities in tooth growth can affect this movement and put stress on the TMJ. There has been research in human athletes showing that athletic performance and strength can increase based on jaw position. This has to do with the position of and stress on the TMJ.
The TMJ and teeth also play big parts in one of the major balance and posture systems of the body– the stomatognathic system. This system is made up of the lips, teeth, jaw, maxilla(upper jaw), TMJ, tongue, neck muscles, vertebrae, and many other structures. While this systems obvious function is to pick up, chew and swallow food, less known functions include allowing correct air flow to the lungs, balance and maintaining posture.
Any time the jaw cannot move correctly because of abnormal dental issues, all this is affected. If the jaw is not moving correctly we not only see chiropractic issues involving the TMJ but also the poll and low neck. This is why good, CORRECT dental care is such an important part of the puzzle.
From a general veterinary care aspect, good dental care helps with decreasing pain and allowing the horse to swallow and use feed properly. From a chiropractic aspect, correct dental care is essential to allowing the horse to move correctly.