Horse Dental Care
Horse Dental Care:
Your Horse Might Live Till 30 -
But Will His Teeth Last?
Unlike dogs, cats and humans, horses have long teeth.
They wear away slowly during their lives but that's OK for horses since they have about 4" of tooth crown below the surface of the gums hidden in the bone of the jaws.
As they wear away the tooth through grinding their food, more erupts into the mouth to take its place.
On average, a horse's teeth will wear and a new crown will replace it at a rate of about 0.11-0.16 inch (3-4mm) per year. That is enough tooth to last 25 years in an ideal situation.
Since most modern equines don't live under ideal circumstances (we have modified the horse's diet and eating patterns through domestication and confinement) modern equine dentistry is a very important part of your horse's heatlh care regimen. Like humans, horses get 2 sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth (deciduous teeth) are temporary.
The first baby incisors may erupt before the foal is born. The last baby teeth come in when the horse is about 8 months old.
Only the incisors and the first three cheek teeth have deciduous precursors to the permanent ones. These teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth around 21/2 years.
By age 5 most horses have their full set of permanent teeth. An adult male horse has 40 permanent teeth, a mare has between 36-40.
Common Dental Problems
Sharp enamel points forming on cheek teeth causing laceration of the cheeks and tongue
Milk teeth that do not fall out
Bit contact with wolf teeth
Long and sharp canine teeth interfering with the bit
Lost and or broken teeth
Abnormal or uneven bite planes
Very worn teeth
Abnormally long teeth
Recognizing Dental problems
Horses may show signs of pain or irritation or they may show no noticeable signs of discomfort
Indicators of dental problems
Loss of feed from mouth while eating
Difficulty with chewing
loss of body conditioning
Long stems or whole grains in manure
Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, resisting bridling
Foul odor from the mouth or nostrils
Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues
More Horse Dental Care
Routine maintenance of a horse's teeth is called floating. Floating removes the sharp enamel points and can help create a more even bite plane.
Removal of Wolf Teeth
Wolf teeth are very small teeth located in front of the second premolar and do not have long roots that set them firmly in the jaw bone. They rarely appear in the lower jaw. Horse may have one to four wolf teeth, or none at all. While not all wolf teeth are troublesome, veterinarians routinely remove them to prevent pain or interference from the bit.
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