Most horse owners want to brush up their equine oral knowledge by knowing how many teeth does a horse has dental anatomy and more. Have you heard the phrase “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” however, you should look at them when trying to assess a horse’s age or oral health issues.
A horse’s teeth are the most significant part of the body. Horses, ponies, donkeys, and Zebras are efficient herbivores.
As horses spend a life of grazing, they are equipped with a set of hardwearing and specialized teeth. Horse teeth change and continuously grow over time.
Horses need regular dental care because of their continuous growth.
The changes and growth of the horse’s teeth let you assess the age of the animal.
If you want to know how many teeth does a horse has, there is no need to look inside the horse’s mouth and count as this guide covers everything from the number of horse teeth, types to common dental problems.
How Many Teeth Does A Horse Have?
Horses have 36 to 42 teeth on average, a male adult horses usually have 40 permanent teeth whereas the mare may have 36 to 40 teeth.
The number of teeth a horse has depends on the gender and the possibility of it growing extra teeth along the bars.
An adult horse having 36 teeth includes 12 incisors, 12 premolars, and 12 molars. Whereas a foal has 24 teeth including 12 incisors and 12 premolars.
Like humans, horses have two sets of teeth in their lifetime, baby (deciduous) teeth and permanent teeth.
Baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth around the age of 2 ½. Horses have all adult or permanent teeth by the age of five. The adult permanent teeth include incisors, canines, molars, and premolars.
Types of Horse Teeth
Equine oral anatomy is more complicated than you think. Horses have different types of teeth and throughout their life, they continue to grow and change.
Deciduous, milk, or baby teeth are the first set of teeth that a foal has. Baby teeth are visible when the foal is born.
There are 24 deciduous teeth that are pushed out and replaced by permanent teeth after the horse’s second birthday.
By the time, the horse reaches 5, all the baby teeth are entirely replaced by the adult teeth.
It is not always easy for young horses to shed baby teeth and they need the help of a veterinarian or equine dentist.
Once the baby teeth are replaced, permanent teeth continue to grow throughout the horse’s life. These are the ones you should precisely look for when determining the horse’s age.
Once the horse gets old, tooth growth stops, and the teeth begin to fall out which could lead to weight loss and quidding.
Breaking the Fact How Many Stomachs Do Horses Have?
Tusks, canine, or wolf teeth become apparent as the foal matures to 4 or 5 years of age. These teeth are more common in stallions and geldings than in mares.
Canine or tushes are small and often sharp teeth that grow in the gap or ‘diastema’ between the incisor teeth and cheek teeth.
They may only be found in the upper jaw or both, upper and lower jaw.
Canine or wolf teeth have no useful purpose in the modern horse and are often removed as they can cause discomfort, especially when holding a bit.
These “fighting teeth” sit beneath the gum and are quite small in size.
The front teeth of a horse are often referred to as incisors. The 6 upper and 6 lower front teeth are incisors.
They are the first baby teeth to grow and shed as the permanent teeth push through. Incisors are easily visible, deep-rooted, and have a simple structure to grasp and tear forage.
These deeply-rooted curves well back into the jaw bone.
Incisors continue to grow and replace the gradual erosion that happened due to cropping fodder. Similar to human teeth, incisors can get damaged by blows.
Premolars and Molars
Premolar and molars are otherwise known as cheekbones. They are found directly beneath the bars of the mouth.
These teeth do all the grinding work to prepare food for digestion. Premolars and molars are wider than the incisors.
Horses have 12 premolar and 12 molar teeth divided into the upper and lower jaw. Cheek teeth cut the hay into ½ inches long, if you have seen hay and grasses longer than that in the horse’s mouth, it indicates a dental problem.
Premolars and molars are deeply rooted that extend to the bottom of the bone. Horses may grow an extra molar in rare cases.
Anatomy of Horse Teeth
Like humans, the equine tooth comprises four layers; pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum. The innermost layer is the pulp which contains important structures like nerves, the blood supply, lymphatics, and odontoblasts.
Dentin is the next layer that makes up most of the teeth. It has four subtypes; primary, regular secondary, irregular secondary, and tertiary which protects the pulp.
Next up is Enamel, which is the tooth’s hardest substance which is located between the dentin and cementum. Enamel can not heal itself like other tooth issues.
The cementum is the outermost layer serving as an attachment between the tooth and the periodontal ligament. It provides support as the horse chews.
Uses of Horse Tooth
Incisors or front teeth are used for biting grass whereas back teeth, molars, and premolars are used for grinding.
Common Dental Problems
Tooth problems lead to poor health, weight loss, difficulty wearing a bit, and behavioral problems. Uneven edges require smoothing because of sharp edges and hooks. A misaligned jaw or parrot mouth causes chewing problems.
The healthy gum color is pink any color change would indicate health problems. Horses need regular dental check-ups at least once a year.
In brief, horses have different types of teeth with the number varying between 36 to 40. These teeth include incisors, canine, premolar, and molar. Horse teeth are prone to dental problems, therefore, need frequent dental checkups. Consult the vet immediately if you observe any dental symptoms.
- Origins of equine dentistry
- Equine “Idiopathic” and Infundibular Caries-Related Cheek Teeth Fractures