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Horse teeth. Most common issues with equine dentition. Horse teeth and their age

Published: 2022-10-10 10:52:14 Categories: Guides Rss feed , Horse health Rss feed


By taking a look into your horse’s mouth, you may learn a lot about him, e.g. how old or how healthy he is.

You should regularly check the state of your horse’s teeth to make sure that the wolf teeth do not hinder his chewing on the bit or that the sharp edges of his teeth do not hurt the roof of the mouth while eating or riding.

Teeth appearance and horse’s age


Every veterinarian, zootechnician, or experienced rider can assess the horse’s age by taking a look at his front teeth.

Horses constantly change the number of the teeth and their appearance during their life – with age, the milk teeth change into adult teeth, and these chafe and change shape with time.

What to pay attention to?

Horse teeth grow throughout the horse’s life but also are subject to natural abrasion. The pace of the abrasion is approximately 2 mm per year.

You may assess the horse’s age by the teeth angle and on the basis of the incisors’ crown and infundibulum. If the horse is between 2 and 5, you may pretty accurately assess his age by observing the lower parts of the teeth, which change in respective order.

If you watch the incisors’ crowns closely, you will see the tooth layers that grow with time. The more layers, the older the horse.

One of the most important indications of the horse’s age is the infundibula, namely indentations in the horse’s teeth. They become more shallow – the smaller the indentation, the older the horse.

You can notice the infundibula in adult teeth – about 6 mm pits in the lower jaw and 12 mm in the upper jaw. The infundibula get completely ground at about 11-13 years of age and then it becomes progressively more difficult to assess the horse’s age.


  • Horses up until 2

2-month-old foals already have milk teeth, which are exchanged for adult teeth between 2 and 3 years of age.

Sometimes it happens that older horses still have milk teeth. It is then recommended to visit a dentist.

Milk teeth are easy to recognize – they are chalice-shaped and clearly white, while adult teeth are elongated and more yellow.

  • Horses up until 5

Teeth exchange starts with the central incisors (at about 2,5), then the intermediate (at about 3,5), and the corner as the last ones.

A 5-year-old horse has a full set of adult teeth.

  • Horses up until 8

Indentations in adult teeth (infundibula) become less and less noticeable. The cups are completely ground on the incisors on the lower jaw, while the upper ones still have a slightly visible indentation. With time and constant abrasion, the teeth become triangular.

  • Horses up until 13

Infundibula in all teeth are ground, both on the lower and upper jaw.

  • Horses older than 13

The state of your horse’s teeth keeps changing and the teeth’ shape changes from triangular to oval-oblong.

What are the most common issues with equine dentition?

Horses don’t always show discomfort, which is why it may be easy to omit worrying symptoms that may point to teeth disease and pain.

However, you may notice certain symptoms that can alarm you about periodontium disease or other, serious conditions.

If you have noticed one of the symptoms below in your horse, immediately contact a vet/equestrian dentist that will thoroughly check your horse’s mouth:

  • unwillingness to take/chew on the bit,

  • sticking the tongue out while riding,

  • not finishing meals/unwillingness to take food,

  • bits of indigested food in feces,

  • sudden weight loss,

  • noticeable tension in the jaw,

  • unwillingness to move forward,

  • apathy/floppy ears.

If you have noticed the symptoms above, you should contact a veterinarian that would confirm a potential disease.

It is crucial to regularly get your horse’s teeth checked by a dentist (at least once a year, it is best to do it every 6-9 months), who will catch a problem even when your horse is not showing any pain symptoms.

What are the most common issues with horse teeth?

  • Wolf tooth - wolf teeth do not appear in every horse, however, if you do notice them, you should immediately call a dentist to have them removed. Wolf teeth usually appear on the lower jaw and they are right before the premolars – where the bit comes.

  • Hooks - hooks are caused by a malocclusion, where the horse’s teeth chafe unevenly. This problem is connected to the cheek teeth, which do not chafe completely because of the overbite or underbite issue.

  • Milk teeth - it sometimes happens that the milk teeth do not fall out and adult teeth are trying to take their place. It causes pressure on the milk tooth by two embracing teeth and it causes enormous pain and discomfort. This case often requires surgery.

  • Sharp teeth edges - it happens with almost every horse and it requires stelengis. The outer part of teeth that are inside the (upper) jaw is often unevenly chafed because the upper jaw is slightly wider than the lower one. The sharp edges cause pain and discomfort, hurting the horse’s cheeks and tongue.

  • Abscess - a purulent collection that appears around a tooth’s root, which is extremely painful and dangerous for the horse. It requires immediate surgery. The puss usually appears around the molars and premolars.

  • Canines - fangs often appear in stallions and they may become too sharp, causing pain. You should regularly control and grind them.

If you find out that your horse has a malocclusion during a vet visit, you should keep checking your horse’s teeth every 6 months as he is more vulnerable to dental diseases.


  • An adult stallion has 40 teeth, while a mare has only 36! Why? Stallions have 12 incisors, 24 molars (molars and premolars), and 4 canines, while mares have no canine teeth.

  • There are no teeth where the bit goes! The bit comes into a space in the horse’s mouth that has only gums – right after the incisors and before the premolars.

  • A horse’s teeth take more space than a horse’s brain.

  • Foals have only 24 milk teeth.

  • The front teeth are called incisors as they serve cutting (incising) and nipping on grass.

Well-maintained and healthy teeth are crucial, however, you should not forget about coat and hoof care. Take a look at the Horse care catalog and purchase the highest-quality care products.

Equestrian store: +48 784 039 784


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