Kinematic analysis of the equine mastication cycle pre and post prophylactic dental-treatment

Claire Johnson, Jane Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Background: The domestic horse is utilised as a companion or competition animal, subsequently many horses are exposed to management regimens which can limit mastication opportunities often resulting in the development of pathology requiring prophylactic dental treatment (routine floating). To date, limited research has undertaken evaluation of the efficacy of mastication pre and post floating. Aim: This study aimed to utilise kinematic analysis to measure changes within lateral excursion and power stroke duration as a result of routine floating to establish its influence on the mastication cycle. Methods: Six horses presenting with sharp buccal and lingual points were charted by a qualified equine dental technician and then underwent kinematic analysis of mastication (Qualysis ProReflex) on Day 0. Prophylactic dental treatment was conducted on Day 1 and kinematic evaluation was repeated on Day 8. Results: No differences were found pre to post floating for the duration of the power stroke or lateral excursion. However, distances travelled during both the power stroke and lateral excursion exhibited significant differences between treatments. The horse appears to exhibit a 'natural' frequency for components of mastication including the durations of the cycle, power stroke and lateral excursion. Increases in distance travelled could facilitate attrition over a larger surface area of the cheek teeth thus improving the efficiency of the mastication cycle. Conclusion: Prophylactic dentistry appears to produce initial enhancement of the 'power' component of the mastication cycle which should exert a positive influence on attrition and thus improve welfare in the horse. Further research to evaluate the longitudinal impact of prophylactic dentistry is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-241
Number of pages7
JournalThe Veterinary Nurse
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • equine
  • dentistry
  • lateral excursion
  • mastication cycle
  • power
  • stroke
  • floating


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