The Importance of Maintaining the Health of Your Horse's Mouth
Routine dental care is essential to your horse's health. Periodic examination,
correction’s and regular maintenance, are especially necessary for a number of
• We have modified the horse's diet and eating patterns through domestication
• We demand more from our performance horses, beginning at a younger age,
than ever before.
• We often select breeding animals without regard to dental considerations.
Proper dental care has its rewards. Your horse will be more comfortable, will utilize
feed more efficiently, may perform better, and may even live longer.
THE HORSE'S MOUTH
Horses evolved as grazing animals, and their teeth are perfectly adapted for that
purpose. The forward teeth, known as incisors, function to shear off forage. The
cheek teeth, including the molars and premolars with their wide, flat, graveled
surfaces, easily grind the feed to a mash before it is swallowed.
Like humans, horses get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, called
deciduous teeth, are temporary. The first deciduous incisors may erupt before the
foal is born. The last deciduous teeth come in when the horse is about 8 months of
age. 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 age 2
1/2. By age 5, most horses have their full complement of permanent teeth. An adult
male horse has 40 permanent teeth. A mare may have between 36-40, because
mares are less likely to have canine (bridle) teeth.
The following chart shows the approximate ages at which different teeth erupt. By
referring to it, you may detect potential abnormalities of your own horse associated
with teething. For more information, refer to the Official Guide for Determining the
Age of the Horse, published by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It
should be noted that there can be significant var