Common Dental Problems


Below are some common dental problems.


Incisor Problems

Most incisor problems inhibit lateral excursion (sideways) and anterior-posterior (front - back) movement of the mandible creating mastication and performance problems.  Horses, unlike humans, chew from side to side rather than up and down.  If the incisors are not horizontally level this affects the occlusal surface available for the molars to grind the food small enough for the horse to digest its feed properly.  This results in the horse having to work harder to breakdown the feed in the delicate digestive system, and can cause the horse to waste a lot of the feed it consumes as it is unable to get the essential nutrients in a digestible form.


Overbites and underbites are also problematic as the horse’s ability to graze can be compromised in some cases.  Horses with ‘parrot’ or ‘sow’ mouths should be checked regularly and incisor work carried out to keep these problems in check.







Molar Problems

Most molar problems also inhibit lateral excursion and anterior-posterior movement of the mandible, creating mastication and performance deficiencies. In addition many cheek teeth problems create soft tissue damage.


Hooks and ramps can cause extreme discomfort for horses when eating and being ridden, and some horses who ‘play’ excessively with the bit may even be able to work the bit over the hooks and avoid the contact.



Steps, waves, protuberant teeth, shear mouths and excessive transverse ridges across the teeth can all significantly reduce molar contact in the whole mouth if left uncorrected.  Sharp points can cause significant pain inside the horses mouth, making eating and being ridden painful for the horse.




(ETR - Excessive Transverse Ridges)


Other Problems

Retained incisor caps cause pain to soft tissue and displacement of permanent incisors.


Wolf teeth often cause performance problems when they come into contact with the bit.


Sharp, excessively long canine teeth (mostly in male horses) may interfere with tongue movement and performance.