One major factor in chiropractic care is checking the teeth! Teeth control so much and are frequently the start of muscle imbalance and subluxations further down the spine. When teeth are either worn incorrectly (wave mouth, sharp points, etc) or diseased (due to excessive tartar) then chewing of food becomes compromised. Without going into too much detail, you can imagine inappropriate chewing puts unbalanced stress on the muscles of mastication and ultimately causes subluxation of the TMJ. And what runs right along that TMJ? Yes obvious answer, nerves! And tons of them!
As soon as the TMJ is subluxated you can guarantee the nerves are becoming dysfunctional. As I’ve touched on in all my other blogs, dysfunction that high up always causes issues further down. I frequently find subluxated cervical vertebrae when the TMJ is out. I also tend to find a horse is extremely difficult to work with when the TMJ is the primary issue. They don’t want your hands in their mouth, they are sensitive or get angry at palpation, and these guys don’t like the adjustment of the TMJ. So, we need to prevent them from getting to this point!
Specifically focusing on horses- I think most horse owners are in tune with the importance of floating teeth. I never realized just how important until I became a chiropractor. I feel like we view the teeth only from the stand point of sensitivity to the bit or ability to eat, and don’t think about the cause-effect relationship of poor dentition to joint health. I don’t need to repeat myself again on how nerve dysfunction effects everything further down the line (read my other blogs if you haven’t already!)
I’ve read in other places on the web that a good chiropractor WONT adjust a horse with bad teeth. I don’t agree. While odds are the adjustment wont hold, there are benefits to the act of adjusting alone. Mechanoreceptors are stimulated during an adjustment and that is pain relieving. So in this case I would warn you, I will have to come back and do this again after the teeth have been floated, but I never want to walk away from an animal and leave them in the same condition as when I came. Even if there is relief for just a day or so, the animal will learn that my voodoo is a good thing, and will be more accepting of the adjustment next time.
When searching for an equine dentist, be sure to do your research and don’t just pick the cheapest one. I’ve found that most dentists that truly know the importance of a balanced mouth also will immediately recommend a chiropractor once they’ve done the floating.
So what about dogs. I’ll be blunt. If your dogs tooth roots are showing, they need to be extracted. Even if it is every tooth. Trust your vet, they aren’t trying to steal your money, they really are telling you the truth about that. A dog with no teeth is way healthier than a dog with diseased teeth!!