How Much Does Horse Teeth Floating Cost?

Written by: Staff

Teeth floating refers to the process where the enamel points (sharp edges) on the surface of the horse’s tooth are removed.  The reason that this is referred to as “floating” is that the file used to smooth out the edges is known as a “float.”

When the enamel points of the teeth are left untreated, this can cause pain during intake and performances.  These sharp points will make it hard for the horse to eat and hold a bit in its mouth.  In addition, these points can cause discomfort for the horse.

Research reveals that regular dental care and floating can increase the digestible energy by 20%.

PB024376 by Hunter-Desportes, on Flickr
PB024376” (CC BY 2.0) by  Hunter-Desportes

How much does horse teeth floating cost?

On average, horse teeth floating is going to cost anywhere from $80 to $220 per horse.  If sedation is required, add another $10 to $30 for the entire procedure.

According to, a 20 to 40-minute dental exam alone often costs between $30 and $70.  This wouldn’t include the floating procedure.

On a forum thread on, members said you should be prepared to spend anywhere from $80 to $180.  However, extras, as we mentioned below, can be an additional cost.  This can include extractions, etc., another horse veterinarian, charges $60 for horses older than four, and if the horse needs sedation, the process will cost $70.

The Horse Daily polled horse owners, and with hundreds of responses, owners had paid anywhere from $75 to $200 for an annual float.

Factors that affect the price

Type of dental work

The total amount of the dental service depends on the type of work the equine dentist will perform on the horse.  Advanced dentistry procedures, such as extractions, can call for higher costs.


Floating fees may vary from state to state as with any professional services.  Also, the distance of the farm from where the equine dental technician is located plays a factor in the cost of the services.


Some equine dentists demand higher rates basing on their reputation, demand and extensive experience.

Additional expenses

Several equine dentists factor in added expenses including the cost of a vehicle to visit their patients, the cost of fuel, as well as the purchase and repair of their equipment, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Horse teeth floating overview

When performing the floating process, the equine dental technician typically observes the body condition of the horse.  He or she will then check its head for any signs of TMJ  and will evaluate the condition of the incisors.  Using a full mouth speculum to check the mouth interior and examine the molars, the sharp teeth are filed down.

Two pieces of equipment are commonly used when floating:  the equine dental wedge and the equine dental speculum.  The equine dental wedge will be placed between the back teeth of the upper and lower jaw and will be used to keep the mouth open during the process.  The equine dental speculum will use metal plates that fit over the upper and lower incisor teeth.  A ratchet mechanism will spread these plates apartment, providing an unobstructed view of the mouth, when compared to the prior method.

What are the extra costs?

Some equine dental services charge a first-time floating fee for horses who have never been floated before.

Many equine dental services charge farm call fees (traveling fees) to reach a farm.  Some do not charge farm fees if they are in a “loop of travel.”

Sedatives may be required in some cases.  This will be in addition to the extra charge for sedation that has already been added.  As mentioned, this could be an additional $20 to $40.

Charges beyond a routine float may also require additional fees.  This can include medication, extractions and/or wolf teeth removal.

Floating should be done at least once per year, so plan on budgeting accordingly for preventative maintenance.  Regardless of the age, the teeth should be examined.

Tips to know:

After the initial dental visit, it is advisable that two visits a year be scheduled until the horse reaches five years of age when its permanent teeth have come in.  Afterward, dental visits may be performed out once or twice a year, depending on the horse.

Find a certified equine dentist who holds memberships in recognized equine dentistry organizations.

There are signs that your horse’s teeth need to be floated.  The first one is weight loss, which is a result of the horse eating less because of the discomfort.  Another sign is the horse tossing its head side to side while opening its mouth.

Floating your horses’ teeth will not hurt since there are no nerves present at the surface of the tooth where the procedure is being performed.

How can I save money?

Rates vary from one equine dentist to another.  Compare rates offered by those in close proximity to your farm.

If you have several horses, take advantage of discounts offered to group discounts.

If you have any other dental work or services that need to be done, try to get it all done at once.  For example, horse owners often combine vaccinations, a Coggins test and/or extractions to save on fees.  By combining procedures, you will be able to save the most money, especially if the dentist charges for farm calls.

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