This subject is divided into sections organized by teeth (incisors, cheek teeth, canines), the oral cavity and the skull pertaining to the teeth. There is also the aging project where I took about 8 to 10 horses with documented ages in groups from 3 years to 30+ years (about 225 horses). I photographed the incisors from both sides, from the front and from the open mouth onto the lower occlusal surfaces (about 900 photos). These are grouped into views from all ages and also into ages with each view per age group. Interesting results were seen but basically I now only age horses by their teeth into 4 groups: young, young adult, adult and senior. Being any more accurate than this is not feasible though you can be close.
There may be a lot of detail here that will interest those that are interested in horse teeth while being too much detail for others. Remember this – it is NOT how sharp the teeth are but it is the horse’s perception of oral pain that will determine if the horse benefits from routine dental care. There is also a basic dentistry course for horse owners available that has the essentials. I also offer a school to teach people who would be legal in their state (the laws vary) to become capable in floating teeth.
Dentistry in horses is my specialty. I have been looking and feeling the teeth and mouth of horses since 1983 and providing dental care exclusively to horses since 1998. There are a lot of pictures in these topics. However I have formed thoughts backed by experience and results which differ from the new thoughts and theories proposed by reasonable people involved with dentistry in horses. Therefore, this section may have some differing opinions and fresh thoughts that counter what you read elsewhere.
Unfortunately no other person or organization has asked me to debate or discuss my views as people in today’s society are afraid of competing thoughts. Just look at politics if you don’t believe me. Apparently equine dentistry is as divisive as politics. As my practice continues to grow, the overwhelming reason for calling me is because of the way I work with horses and the results I get. This is better off being discussed elsewhere but understand that what I discuss here is based on over 70,000 horses that I have worked on plus the blessing of a veterinary education that taught me how to think and probe for better answers.
The purpose of this subject and all of topics on this site is to help you see things about horses more clearly and help us all become advocates for their horse.
Calculus is the accumulation of saliva and food debris that hardens and forms a crust on a tooth. Here it is formed on the canines of some male horses.
Calculus on canines are usually uniform, but in some horses, more feed becomes entrapped in the crusty material.
Canines in some older horses lose their integrity and decay. This is often associated with EOTRH but can also be from trauma.
These teeth of male horses sometimes are placed against something harder, such as a steel stall bar. The result is fracture of the canine.
Canines are found in almost every male horse (stallions and geldings) but are rare in female horses.
Canine teeth of male horses (and occasionally females) can erupt anytime, but most commonly from before birth to 3 years of age.
Canines – Unusual Findings In Horses
Some horses accumulate saliva and feed in the sides of their cheeks that turns to hard calculus on the cheek sides of the first 1 to 3 cheek teeth.
Cheek Teeth Cap Fractures In Horses
Deciduous teeth (“Caps”) of young horses attach themselves to the underlying permanent tooth with tips of tooth. These often break off and remain between the permanent tooth and the gum like a kernel of pop corn stuck between your tooth and gum.
The 12 premolar cheek teeth have precursor deciduous teeth (caps). The 12 molar cheek teeth do not have deciduous teeth.
Cheek teeth when not aligned with the rest of the teeth in the arcade are called displaced.
Cheek teeth have a finite lifespan and when they run out of reserve crown, there is nothing left to hold them in. These are end stage teeth.
When the permanent premolar cheek teeth push into position, they often cause lumps that appear on the face and lower jaw. These are normal and are not painful.
On occasion, the cheek teeth of horses need to be extracted, though in my practice, it is extremely rare.
Foreign objects are usually organic (hay and other feed) that get stuck between the cheek teeth when an unusual gap exists.
Cheek teeth fractures are very common and are usually non-events in the horse’s life.
Hooks are the over-eruption of a tooth and are seen when there is no opposition in chewing.
An uneven occlusal surface along the arcade of cheek teeth is commonly called a wave. Some feel that the unevenness needs to be leveled however in my experience, it does not.
The chewing motion is unique to each horse and is affected by oral pain.
Cribbing Rings In Horses
The use of the speculum is common in equine dentistry. There are reports of damage to the horse caused by them and this is one of those cases.
Flabby Cheeks is the description of excessive tissue that lays in front of the first lower cheek teeth of horses. It is one of the three major reasons for bit difficulties and bit rejection as well as one of the primary causes of difficult floating in horses.
Anything can get stuck in the mouth – and when you have no fingers…..
Incisors are the nipper teeth and anything that is not normal is easily seen.
The nipper teeth can be missing from 1) never being there, 2) the cap is gone and the permanent tooth has not erupted yet, 3) trauma, and 4) extraction.
Accumulation of saliva with feed is very common on the canines but not that common on incisors.
Some deciduous incisors hang on longer than they should.
Some deciduous incisors leave remnants between the gum and the permanent incisor.
All incisors have a precursor deciduous tooth that is displaced and ejected by the erupting permanent tooth below it.
Damage is common to the incisors because one of the primary purposes of these teeth is defense.
Incisors usually do not decay except after trauma or if EOTRH is affecting the horse.
Incisor Extractions In Horses
Incisor Fractures In Horses
Incisor Hooks In Horses
When a horse is relaxed, their incisors are kept apart as seen in these photos. On average a horse chews 25,000 times a day. If each chew takes 1 second, then all the teeth are kept out of occlusion 71% of the day.
Supernumerary incisors means there are more incisor teeth than should be there (more than 12 permanent incisors).
The primary wearing factor of the incisors, including length and pattern of wear, is the movement of the tongue over the occlusal surfaces. This is called stropping.
These picture show trauma of an incisor from about 2 years earlier and the removal of the damaged tooth.
A YouTube visitor asks me several questions about incisors and theories of equine dentistry.
Canines are used as weapons and some horses have very big canines.
Oral Cavity Abscess In Horses
On occasion, a growth occurs within the mouth that is benign and just a passing observation. Rarely do they affect the horse unlest they enlarge and cause either pain or restrict the chewing movement.
Whenever trauma occurs inside the mouth of the horse, the reaction from the horse can be anywhere from nothing at all to drooling and an inability to chew.
Overbite In Horses
Parrot mouth only affects the relationship of the incisors to each other where the upper incisors are more forward than the lower incisors and completely miss on occlusion. The cheek teeth are not affected.
Puffy Cheeks In Horses
Quidding In Horses
Signs Of Sharp Dental Points In Horses
Sow mouth only affects the relationship of the incisors to each other where the lower incisors are more forward than the upper incisors and completely miss on occlusion. The cheek teeth are not affected.