Last Updated on April 2, 2022 by Allison Price
True or false: Horses grow their teeth throughout their lives.
Short answer: False. Horses don’t get new teeth during their lives. This is a complicated story. Their very long, straight teeth push (erupt), through the gum line slowly over their entire lives.
The horse’s teeth
There are two types of horse teeth. Foals have 24 baby tooth which are then pushed out by permanent teeth.
An adult horse’s teeth will be between 4-5 and 6 inches long. However, the majority of the tooth is still below the gumline. Horses grind their teeth when they eat, which can cause wear to his teeth. To compensate, his teeth continue to grow through his lifetime through the jawline. The remaining tooth is erupting from the jaw every year, about 1/8″.
Why it’s important to have the horse’s teeth floated
Sharp hooks can develop in your horse’s back teeth as they continue to erupt. This can cause pain for him, especially if a bit is put in his mouth. His teeth can also wear unevenly, making his mouth close incorrectly. This can also cause discomfort and pain for your horse.
Equine dentistry is essential. Your horse’s life can be saved by an equine practitioner who is certified to perform equine dentistry. A practictioner, usually a DVM–doctor in veterinary medicine, will “float” the horse’s teeth. This involves removing any sharp hooks or unevenness and filing them down. Today, most veterinarians use power equipment for floats instead of files or hasps. This equipment makes it possible to perform the procedure quickly and accurately. Power equipment can cause permanent damage to the nerves and tooth itself. Equine dentists are experienced and will treat your horse’s tooth with short bursts of power equipment. They also feel the teeth often to prevent any injury.
Sometimes, other problems such as infected and impacted teeth can be detected during the procedure.
Should I use power tools or manually to float my horse’s teeth?
Advanced Equine Veterinary Practice is Dr. Tom Daugherty’s in Stamping Ground KY. Since 2001, he has been practicing equine dentistry. Dr. Daugherty recommends that horse teeth be properly floated using both power and manual equipment. He stated that each tool has its own advantages in an EquiMed interview. Although power equipment is more efficient, I still prefer to use manual tools for fine-tuning in some cases. “
The main problem with manual tools is their dependence on the brute force of the equine dentist, who must manually push the tool back and forth inside the horse’s mouth to remove the hardened enamel. It can often lead to a tiring and long session for both horse and practitioner. The practitioner often works blindly when using a manual rasp.
Dr. Daugherty explains that power tools allow a veterinarian to do precise work in a shorter time frame and with significantly less effort. A horse that has a major hook or step on his molars, for example, can have its adjustments done in a shorter amount of time, which causes less discomfort for everyone. “
This video shows a horse getting his teeth power floated in Grantsburg Animal Hospital’s Wild River Veterinary Clinic.
What are the signs that my horse’s teeth should be floated?
You may notice signs such as dropping food while chewing, weight loss and “quidding”, where your horse puts grass and hay in its cheeks. Dr. Daugherty says that your horse does this because it wants to protect her sensitive cheeks, tongue and enamel teeth. There may be hay balls in your horse’s stall, undigested food on her stool, and puffy cheeks.
How often should my horse have his teeth flubbed?
Dr. Daugherty says that horses younger than 5 years old should be floated once every six months, as there are many changes in the horse’s mouth. To diagnose and treat congenital dental issues, foals should be examined as soon as possible after their birth. He mentions that enamel points can cause damage to the tongue and cheeks in yearlings.
Horses between the ages 5 and 20 years should be floated at least once per year unless your veterinarian or you suspect that there are any issues. Horses older than 20 years old should be checked every six months and floated only when necessary.
Dr. Steven M. Purse EqDTI, a graduate from The American School Of Equine Dentistry, advised that wolf teeth should be removed. They can cause pain in horses’ mouths when they bump into them, or pinch the cheek tissue between the bit & the tooth.
This is all you need to know about caring after your horse’s teeth.