TMJ Disorder in Horses

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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9 Responses

  1. Holly Carlile says:

    My mare had TMJ and I used a natural progesterone called Progessence Plus. It works in a matter of days. It is an essential oil made from wild yams formulated by Young Living. Just apply behind the ears close to the joint. Amazing results and lasted about 6 months then just reapply.

  2. Brian Stuarr says:

    I agree with Dr. Mack’s assessment of todays power horse dentistry…”injurious to horses and easy on the practitioner.”
    As for “natural dentist’s” musing regarding the equine tmj. They are the fantasies of a guy who spent a little time at a diploma mill out west for horse dentists who then opened a school of his own. There is zero research that backs up claims that the equine tmj can be benefitted by changes made to the incisors. The claim that equine incisors should be kept at the length and angle of a five year old is the cornerstone of this groundless and dangerous approach to caring for horses teeth. So many horses will be left to suffer as this unfounded theory is taught to more uneducated caregivers. The equine tmj is understood to be a more rugged joint than ours and rarely has dysfunction unless it is traumatized. All the symptoms described in the article are typical issues for horses whose teeth need to be well floated. By promoting this drivel you have now joined those who do a disservice to horses.

    • Casie says:

      Hello Brian, I appreciate your comment and I don’t pretend to be an expert on the horse’s mouth or teeth. I simply know what has and hasn’t worked for my horses. And the horse mentioned in this particular post was examined by several vets and had her teeth traditionally floated (with power tools) several times and it made no difference for her. Just as there are many ideas on ‘properly’ trimming the hoof (even within natural trimming circles), there are bound to be different ideas on how to correctly balance or float the teeth (or whatever you may call it). That doesn’t necessarily mean one is right and one is wrong though. I have only used a natural balance dentist once, but I was quite impressed with his horsemanship skills with my ‘difficult’ horse. I’m open to other ideas though and believe that all shared knowledge can lead us to a better understanding of the horse’s mouth.

  3. Brian Stuart says:

    Misinformation isn’t knowledge, it’s only misinformation.

  4. As a vet with a specific interest in equine dentistry and teh teporomandibular joint in particular I totally agree with your final point …
    ” when your horse is behaving in an unnatural manner, don’t always assume he’s just being difficult. A head shy horse or one who is fussy with the bit likely has valid reason to be acting the way he does.”
    I often see horses who have been dismissed as being “difficult” only to find dental issues, back or neck pain, gastric ulceration or rarely temporomandibular joint arthropathy/pain. I would echo Brian’s point regarding “natural balance dentistry”. the research they talk about has never been published, not subjected to peer review and when I have requested a copy several times I have had no answer.
    please don’t “cringe” at the thought of joint injections – the only way to truely diagnose the TMJ as the cause of the symptoms is with diagnostic analgesia (or joint blocks as they are commonly called) and corticosteroids injected directly into an inflammed joint can give marked and almost immidiate relief to these horses who have often been in pain for years. Then using all the management changes you have discussed to keep the condition under control is really helpful but you are starting with a comfortable horse. I saw a gelding this morning who has been showing marked symptoms on the bit (both ridden and none ridden). We injected both of his TMJ’s and then the owner rode him – I left her almost in tears as he has been unridable for months and he trotted around the school this morning without an issue.
    Thanks for bringing this often unrecognised condition to horse owners attention.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for your comments. And the ‘cringing’ part probably has to do with my thoughts about having injections in my own sore jaw. I’m sure it can be helpful for some horses. Certainly glad to hear that it helped the horse in the case you cited.

  5. Shelly says:

    I read your article with interest as I have a horse that is very head shy for no known reason. I stopped reading, however, when you suggested a pressure point for the gall bladder as horses do not have one. Oops.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Shelly, I’m well aware that horses don’t have a gallbladder. There is, however, a gallbladder meridian on the horse, which is more of an energetic pathway than anything. It’s still called the gallbladder meridian, just as it is in people. I do hope you’ll finish reading the article, as I believe these points can be very useful for horses with jaw pain. Thanks.

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