Does Your Horse Need a Dental?

Peace & Performance

Horses teeth erupt throughout their lives up until around 30 years old. The natural wear of erupting teeth is often hindered by the way the modern domestic horse is kept and fed. Dental issues, ulcers and lacerations  can all impact the chewing function as well as the peace and performance of the horse.  As a prey animal, a horse will do its very best to avoid showing any weakness or pain to a certain point, beyond this symptoms may be seen physically, in behaviour or overall condition.


Dental Concerns and Problems

- Erruption of new teeth & retention of milk teeth (caps) 

- Sharp edges on the cheek and tongue sides of the teeth
- Food packing, disease, decay and tartar mass
- Fractured teeth or uneven wear patterns
- Bit sensitiviy & direct contact with teeth including wolf teeth

- Wolf Teeth (under the gum, multiple teeth, along the bar of the mouth)

- Cupping out, loss of teeth and reduced grinding surface as the horse ages

- Abnormalities including: extra teeth, missing teeth, parrot/ sow mouths

- Tension and pressure sensitvity in the jaw joint (TMJ)


A dental visit will help to identify issues and help to balance the mouth, this should be undertaken at least annually but may increase for young or older horses or those in high performance work. Treatment and corrections may also need to be undertaken in stages to balance the mouth and ensure the horses comfort and dental function.


The Importance and Erruption Rate of Equine Teeth

Equines are not ruminants. Unlike cows and sheep they do not have a pre-stomach bacteria system which helps to release nutrients and break down grasses, hays & fibres. This job in the horse is performed by the grinding action of the cheek teeth and is a key function in effective digestion.


A foal is born with 12 molar teeth, it gains another 12 milk teeth (caps) before the age of 6 months. Its adult teeth start to errupt at 1yr old and between the ages of 2½ to 5years old all milk teeth will be lost and replaced by a full set of permanent adult teeth. It is possible to guage a horses age by the erruption stage of its teeth up to 30 years old.

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