brown horse sticking its neck out over fence with its teeth showing - learn common horse dental problems from BRD Vet Rx

Did you know that you can tell a horse’s age by its teeth? These herbivores use their teeth to munch on grass, hay, and other treats all day long to get proper nutrients and energy. Because of this, it’s important that their chompers are strong, healthy, and are developing properly. Just like how you may notice a cavity from eating too many sweets, there are some common horse dental problems that you should look out for. 

Cap Teeth in Young Horses

Young horses will lose their “baby teeth” (also known as milk or deciduous teeth). This is a healthy and normal process, so be on the lookout for spare teeth laying around. Some baby teeth may not come out as intended, and this leaves opportunity for discomfort and infection. 

A common horse dental problem is cap teeth – where the baby tooth sits above an adult tooth as it grows in. More common in back teeth, these problem-causers can be hard to spot. Signs of cap teeth include:

  • Drooling
  • Foaming
  • Bad Breath Odor
  • Quidding (spitting out cuds of hay)
  • Abnormal Chewing or jaw holding
  • Head tossing
  • Spilling food while eating grain

If you notice these symptoms, it’s time to call your horse health care professional. Cap teeth cause discomfort and can rob your developing horse of the nutrients its trying to get through its diet.

What is Floating & How Often Should it Happen?

As I said before, horse’s teeth grow and change throughout their lifetime. This is why the horse itself can have a longer life than its teeth – causing tooth loss and gaps into old age. As the teeth change, they can develop sharp edges and points, which can cut and/or irritate their tongue and cheeks. No one wants to deal with painful sores and abscesses, not even horses. 

In order to fight this common horse dental health care problem, your companion should get their teeth floated at least once a year. Floating is the process of filing down those sharp edges and hooks as they develop, preventing them from causing any damage. Make sure that you have a trusted horse health care professional complete this process to prevent further damage or pain.

Signs that your horse needs its teeth floated are:

  • Unusual head movements
  • Dropping grain as they eat
  • Undigested food in their manure
  • Acting up under the saddle and bridle
  • Excessive salivating
  • Soaking their food in water
  • Showing general discomfort or struggle during meal times

What Are Some Other Common Horse Dental Problems?

Some other common dental problems that horses run into are:

  • Wearing of the teeth
  • Extra teeth (also known as wolf teeth or tushes)
  • Tooth loss due to aging 
  • Decay
  • Wave Mouth
  • And more

Every horse is different and will experience different growing pains (literally), so if you notice the common symptoms of bad breath, struggling to eat, or head tossing, it’s worth taking a closer look. If you don’t know what’s going on, make sure to contact your horse health care specialist. They may have a better idea based on the symptoms you see and can suggest the next steps. 

The horse health care specialists at BRD Vet Rx has been helping equine companions feel and perform their best for almost 100 years. We love horses and our passion is to see them thrive. View our handmade products here – we will continue to help horses through our trusted compounding pharmacy.