Common Dental Problems
Horses are one of the few animals that have a natural occlusion of the incisors. This means that when the mouth
is closed the biting surface of the incisors are in contact. Compare this to a human mouth where the lower
incisors partially sit behind the upper incisors when you bite your mouth closed. The result is that the incisors in
a horse have a real bearing on how the cheek teeth function and visa versa. If incisors are too long, or don’t fit
together properly, the cheek teeth will not be able to grind properly. This will lead not only to mastication
problems but also to premature aging of some teeth, pain and temperament/performance problems.
Caps or baby teeth need to shed in sets, at the correct time to allow the permanent teeth to erupt in the normal
This was a 13 year old horse with a cap which had been retained since
it should have shed when he was 3 ½ years old. It may not look much
but had set up major problems within the mouth affecting not only the
teeth but also this horse was very difficult to ride, handle and found it
difficult to lift his near side, front leg. The cap had pushed the
permanent teeth out their natural position leading to some areas having
no opposition and therefore becoming protuberant.
*problems due to dentition on the upper arcades of teeth can affect
the front legs and problems due to dentition on the lower arcades
can affect the hind legs!
This retained cap has not pushed the permanent tooth out of position
but is still causing a very uncomfortable situation for this horse.