How to Care for Your Horse’s Teeth

Horse’s teeth grow for most of their lifetime. If not taken care of properly, they can cause problems. Here’s how to keep them in top shape.

Did you know your horse’s teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime? In fact, a horse’s tooth will grow between 2-3mm per year until they’re in their late teens or early twenties.

In the wild, due to the horse’s diet, they’re worn down naturally, so they don’t over-grow and cause issues. However, because of how many horses are kept today, as well as differences in their diet, this means that sometimes they need a little help to maintain good teeth condition.

Here are four top tips for caring for your horse’s teeth:

1. Know what’s normal

The best way to prevent problems with your horse’s teeth is to know what’s normal. Get to know how your horse’s teeth look, how your mount eats and drinks, and their general behaviour when they’re healthy. This makes it easier to pick up when something’s wrong, potentially caused by problems with their teeth.

2. Keep an eye on how they’re eating

A sure sign their teeth may be giving them trouble is if they’re not eating as well as usual. This could include dropping their food, eating more slowly, or drinking during their feeding time. You may also notice more unchewed food in their stools, or even weight loss if they’re not eating as much due to tooth pain.

You may also notice a change in behaviour if their teeth are causing them pain. So, if your horse is extra stroppy, or not taking the bit as easily as normal, it may pay to have a good look at their teeth.

3. Feed them roughage

Because of how horses feed in the wild – cropping grass from the ground – horses get plenty of roughage in their diet. Grass contains silica which helps wear down the tooth’s surface. If your horse doesn’t get out to pasture much, their teeth may not be worn down naturally. If left too long, this can cause problems.

However, as horses grow older and their teeth stop growing, it may be better to feed them a softer diet that doesn’t require as much chewing.

4. Call in the equine dentist

If you’ve confirmed that your horse’s teeth are a little on the long side, they have worn unevenly, or have sharp edges causing them discomfort, the best thing is to call in your horse dentist. They’ll be able to float your horse’s teeth, so they’re smooth and even.

Floating is the removal of sharp points from the cheek side of your horse’s upper teeth and the tongue side of their lower teeth. This is the most basic component of regular horse dentistry.

Most horses will benefit from yearly dental treatment, although others may need it more frequently – especially if they’re stabled a lot of the time. If your horse spends most of its time out at pasture and eats mainly grass, you may not need to have their teeth floated quite as often.

As with any health concern, prevention is better than cure, so make checking your horse’s teeth part of your regular routine. Also ensure their teeth are looked at during their regular vet checks. Your vet can advise if they notice anything amiss and whether your horse needs a visit from the dentist.