If you own a horse, you should try to find out as much as you can about their health and how to take care of them, and this includes their teeth. There are so many things to learn about a horse’s teeth, as they will change rapidly throughout the lifetime of the horse.
The teeth of a horse will only keep growing throughout their lifetime, and this is why it is so important for them to receive regular and efficient dental care. This is essential if you want to keep your horse happy and healthy.
In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about a horse’s teeth, so you can be prepared for anything. We are also going to take a look at the development of horses’ teeth over time at different stages in life.
What You Need to Know About Horse Teeth
The first thing that you should know about horses and their teeth is that their teeth will actually continue to grow throughout the life of the horse. Due to this continual growth, it is really important that your horse receives regular dental care with a procedure that is called floating. Floating the teeth will work to keep the surfaces even and ensure proper food digestion.
All of the changes that will take place in the teeth of a horse over time can even be used to determine the age of a horse if this is unknown. This is one of the most accurate ways to find out how old a young horse is. However, the older that the horse is, the less accurate this process can be.
Something else that you should know is that the teeth are made up of materials that vary in hardness, which can cause portions of the teeth to wear down at different rates. A combination of wear marks, the presence or absence of baby teeth, the overall shape of the teeth, and identifying grooves are all things that can help when it comes to determining a horse’s age based on their teeth.
Horse Teeth and Age
As we have already mentioned, the teeth of a horse will only continue to grow throughout the horse’s lifetime. Below, we are going to tell you more about a horse’s teeth, based on their age.
- 1 year old – The horse will have 24 baby teeth
- 2 to 2.5 years old – The horse will have their second set of permanent molars
- 3 years old – The horse will have 2 permanent central incisors erupt
- 4 years old – Male horses and some female horses will have canine teeth erupt
- 5 years old – The horse will have all of their permanent teeth, and the grinding surfaces will be oval from side to side
- 6 years old – The permanent incisors will start to show signs of wear
- 7 to 8 years old – The cups of the middle lower incisors will disappear
- 8 to 9 years old – The cups of the corner lower incisors will disappear
- 10 years old – Galvayne’s groove will appear at the gum line
- 11 years old – The cups in the corner upper incisors will disappear
- 12 years old – The chewing surfaces on the central incisors become round,rather than oval
- 14 to 16 years old – The corner incisors will develop ridges
- 17 years old – All of the incisors will have round surfaces
- 18 years old – The central incisors will become triangular
- 20 years old – Galvayne’s groove will run the length off the corner incisors
- 23 years old – All of the incisors will become triangular
- 24 to 29 years old – The grinding surfaces will become oval again, but from front to back
- 30 years old – Galvayne’s groove will disappear
- Over 30 years old – The teeth will be short with small tooth nubs, and teeth may be lost in some areas
An adult horse will have 36 teeth, including 12 incisors, 12 premolars, and 12 molars.
A foal will have 24 teeth, including 12 incisors and 12 premolars.
How Horse Teeth Change With Age
Horses can have up to 4 wolf teeth and a set of 4 canine teeth, and the wolf teeth will appear at around 5 or 6 months of age. These are the small and pointed teeth that will grow in front of the premolars. These teeth will usually be shed with the baby teeth, but this doesn’t always happen. If the wolf teeth are retained, and they interfere with the horse’s bite, then they can be removed. This is because the horse doesn’t actually need them for chewing in adulthood.
The majority of male horses will have canine teeth, and some mares will too. If a horse does grow canine teeth, then they will usually appear at around 4 years of age. These are small and pointed teeth that will grow behind the incisors on the bars of the horse’s mouth. They don’t usually interfere with the bite.
Interestingly, a foal will have grown their first 24 baby teeth by the time that they are 9 months old. These are called deciduous teeth, and by 12 months old, they will grow their first set of permanent molars. It will typically take around 4 or 5 years for a horse to lose all of its baby teeth and for them to be replaced with permanent adult horse teeth. All of this information can help someone to identify the age of a horse based on their teeth.
Horse Teeth Anatomy
Now that you know almost everything there is to know about how the teeth of a horse will change as they get older, we are going to take a quick look at the anatomy of horse teeth below.
The teeth of a horse will have roots that are quite long and go deep into the jaw bone. Over time, these teeth will start to push out slowly, and really young horses will have a small part of their tooth exposed with a long oot. Horses that are very old will typically have a small amount of tooth exposed, but with hardly any root left.
The permanent teeth will also change in shape as the horse gets older. This is due to the fact that the root part of the tooth is actually slowly emerging from the jaw. The front teeth, which are called incisors, will be used for biting at grass. The back teeth, either the molars or premolars, will be used for grinding up the grass. A horse will also have a large interdental space between the incisors and the molars. This is the space in the horse’s gums that will not contain any teeth.
For a young horse, the teeth will be shorter and straight up and down. However, as they get older, the teeth will become longer. The incisors will get longer and will start to slant at a forward angle as the horse grows older.
One term that we have mentioned here is Galvayne’s Groove. When a horse grows to around the age of 10, the upper corner incisors will start to show a groove at the line of the gum. This is what is called the Galvatne’s Groove. Throughout the next 10 years of life, this groove will grow all the way down the length of the tooth. At 20 years old, a horse will have a Galvayne’s Groove all the way down the upper corner incisors.
After this point in time, the groove will start to disappear, and this process will start from the top. By the time that the horse reaches 30 years of age, the groove will have disappeared entirely. Eventually, the long incisors will start to grow short, and this is because the older horse will not have as much tooth left.