Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Teeth: rasping (floating)

Synonym(s): Routine dental floating

Contributor(s): Gordon Baker, Jack Easley, Chris Pearce, Jill Richardson, Vetstream Ltd


  • Maintenance of the occlusal surfaces of the dental arcades to avoid sharp edges forming that may cause soft tissue trauma. Also to prevent focal overgrowths developing or result in progressive abnormalities of wear resulting in quidding or loss of condition.

Print off the Owner factsheet onDental Care  Dental care  andCaring for the older horse  Caring for the older horse  to give to your client.


  • Removal of sharp enamel points and hooks from cheek teeth.
  • Reduction of focal overgrowths.
  • Identification and possible correction of more advanced abnormalities of wear.
  • Gentle rounding/smoothing of rostral portion of second pre-molar to potentially improve comfort with the bit.

Care with old horses; excessive rasping may result in loosening or loss of cheek teeth due to reduced reserve crown.


  • Cheap.
  • Requires minimal restraint   Restraint methods  .
  • Relatively easy procedure that prevents occurrence of more severe conditions.


  • Horses occasionally object to routine floating, especially to adequately float the caudal teeth or in cases of neglet/overgrowth.
  • Sedation may be required to ensure an adequate job, eg oral examination should be thorough and complete at routine floating which may necessitate sedation.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • O'Leary J M et al (2013) Pulpar temperature changes during mechanical reduction of equine cheek teeth: Comparison of different motorised dental instruments, duration of treatments and use of water cooling. Equine Vet J 45 (3), 355-366 PubMed.
  • Tremain H & Pearce C (2012) A modern approach to equine dentistry 4. Routine treatments. In Pract 34 (6), 330-347 VetMedResource.
  • Tutt C (2011) Equine dentistry: Routine examination and floating. Equipment required. UK Vet 16 (1), 4-10 VetMedResource. 
  • Carmalt J L, Townsend H G G, Janzen E G & Cymbaluk N F (2004) Effect of dental floating on weight gain, body condition score, feed digestibility, and fecal particle size in pregnant mares. JAVMA 225 (12), 1889-1893 PubMed.
  • Carmalt J L, Townsend H G G & Allen A L (2003) Effect of dental floating on the rostrocaudal mobility of the mandible of horses. JAVMA 223 (5), 666-669 PubMed.
  • Ramzan P H L (2002) The need for chemical restraint while performing routine dental procedures using a full mouth speculum - a retrospective study of 581 examinations. Equine Vet Educ 14 (1), 30-32 VetMedResource.
  • Dixon P M (2000) Removal of equine dental overgrowths. Equine Vet Educ 12 (2), 68-81 VetMedResource.
  • Howarth S (1995) Equine dental surgery. In Practice 17 (4), 178-187 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Scrutchfield L (1999)Correction of Abnormalities of the Cheek Teeth.In: NAVC Proceedings.pp 127-130.