Why do horse’s teeth?

Why use an equine dental technician?

Equine dentist looking after a horse's teethImagine having ulcers in your mouth and then having a metal bit pulling and tugging these sores onto sharp molars? Pain from such ulcers leads to some horses having eating and behavioural problems. Prevention is the best medicine, so get a professional EDAA equine dental technician to start early and keep up maintenance for your horse’s long, healthy life.

Unlike our teeth, horse’s teeth continue to erupt or grow throughout most of their life, especially in their early years. They are also constantly being worn down due to the griding action horses use to chew their feed.

The shape this grinding creates can cause problems. The maxilla (upper jaw) is wider than the mandible (lower jaw) so the molars don’t sit directly over each other. The outside edges of the upper molars and the inside edges of the lower molars don’t get ground down at the same rate as the rest of the teeth and become very sharp. These sharp edges need to be correctly dressed to prevent lacerations to the cheeks and tongue. This is especially the case with the first molars that need special attention to be shaped correctly.

What about horses in the wild?

Because brumbies mainly eat grass, with high moisture content, their teeth are not grinding as much as domestic horses on hard feed. Plus brumbies don’t use a bit, so they aren’t pulling sores onto their sharp molars. If brumbies have a problem, they suffer the pain and ultimately they live a much shorter life.

Like us, young horses lose their deciduous or ‘milk’ teeth. 24 milk teeth are lost between the ages of two and a half and four and a half years. These are also called ‘caps’ or ‘temporary incisors’. They often fall out naturally but can give problems and need to be extracted. Beware not to allow removal of ‘green’ caps, as the permanent molars are not yet fully developed to take the grinding motion in the jaw.

wild horsesWolf teeth have no function for chewing but can contribute to problems with horses being educated with a bit. The removal of these teeth is often advantageous. We can advise you on how to deal with wolf teeth.

We see all sorts of other, less common problems that can occur inside the horse’s mouth such as teeth that grow sideways, rostrels and over or under shot jaws. These special cases often need maintenance on a more regular basis. In some instances we may even need to work in conjunction with a vet.

Luckily, with regular checks, it’s usually pretty easy to prevent your horse from suffering oral pain and prevention is always better than cure, especially when training a horse.