Horses are classified as grazing animals and their teeth are perfectly adapted for that purpose. The cheek teeth including the molars and premolars with their flat, graveled surfaces easily grind the feed to a mash before it is swallowed. Like humans horses get two set of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, also called the deciduous teeth are temporary. The last baby teeth come in when the horse is about 8 months of age. These teeth are beginning to be replaced by adult teeth around the age 2 1/2 years. By age 5 most horses have their permanent teeth. A male horse has 40 teeth and a female horse has 36 teeth. Many times the horses teeth are used to judge their age.
Sometimes the teeth do not develop properly and this may cause dental problems.
Some common problems are:
1. Retained caps (deciduous teeth that are not shed). 2. Sharp enamel points forming on cheek teeth. 3. Hooks forming on the upper and lower cheek teeth. 4. Lost or broken teeth. 5. Abnormally long teeth. 6. Excessively worn teeth. 7. Infected teeth or gums. 8. Abnormal or uneven bite planes. 9. Periodontal (gum) disease
Even when your horse has healthy teeth it is still important to have regular exams. One of the things that a veterinarian may do would be to file your horse's teeth. To do this he uses a big file, called a rasp. This procedure is called floating. Teeth in a horse continue to grow all their life. Because of this it is necessary to try and keep their teeth as even as possible. When horses graze in a pasture, they not only pick up grass with their teeth but also dirt and tiny rocks. This actually wears down the teeth and helps keep them level. However, a horse that is in the stable doesn't use their teeth the same way. Stabled horses eat a lot of grain that is easier to chew and so their teeth sometimes will grow too long or develop sharp points. Floating removes the points that sometimes develop on the teeth. This makes the horse's teeth fit together better and improves his bite.
Remember take care of your horses teeth and he will eat better, perform better, and maybe even live longer.
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