Dental Health Checklist
Use this checklist to track milestones and important procedures for your horse.

Newborn to Two Weeks
Foals should be examined soon after birth for any congenital defects that could lead to malocclusion (overbite or underbite). By two weeks, foals usually have erupted 16 deciduous teeth. Cleft Palate problems must be addressed at birth.

Deciduous Eruption Table
  • Central: Birth to 1 Week
  • Middle: 4-6 Weeks (later in Shetlands)
  • Corners: 6-9 Months (later in Shetlands)
Premolars 12 total: Birth to 1 week.

12-18 Months
A complete dental exam should be performed prior to any training—all 24-30 deciduous teeth are in wear and will have developed sharp points. The softer deciduous teeth develop sharp edges faster and cause lacerations (ulcers and then calluses on cheeks). Examine every six months.

Wolf teeth erupt around 8-9 months of age and sit just in front or slightly lingual to the second premolar. These vestigial teeth may interfere with the bit, creating a pain response to bit or bosal. Wolf teeth are usually extracted at 12-18 months of age.

The first molar erupts behind the last deciduous premolar at about 12 months.

2-5 Years
The permanent teeth begin erupting and move into wear. Check every 6 months for points, retained incisors and caps on premolars. Lose caps may cause quidding, salivation, abnormal mouth movements for several days. Training success may be influenced by eruption discomfort and periodontal reaction. Check for crowding of the last permanent premolar erupting at about 4 years.

Approximate Permanent Eruption Table
  • Central: 2.5 Years
  • Middle: 3.5 years (later in draft, minis, Shetlands)
  • Corners: 4.5 years (later in draft, minis, Shetlands)
Canines 4-6 years (mostly males, 28% females)
  • First: 6-12 months-the vestigial wolf tooth
  • Second: 2 years, 8 months
  • Third: 2 years, 10 months
  • Fourth: 3 years, 10 months (the last cheek tooth to erupt)
  • First: 1 year (no deciduous molars)
  • Second: 2 years
  • Third: 3.5 years

5 years to 20 years
Annual exam and occlusal equilibration (floating) if occlusion is normal. Abnormal occlusion will require more frequent examination and treatment. Middle aged horses have harder teeth and may require less frequent treatment.
The Wearing of Teeth: All cheek teeth are in wear by 5 years of age. At eruption, they are 2 and 1/3 to 3 inches long and they wear at an average rate of about 1/10 inch per year.

By 20 years of age, some cheek teeth are worn to the gums, with only a small amount of root left in the alveolus and others have only a small amount of exposed crown.

Most teeth are worn away by age 30.

Over 20 years
Twice yearly exam and any needed occlusal equilibration, plus treatment of any periodontal disease.

The Hypsodont teeth have little or no further reserve crown. Narrowing of the crowns of the teeth at the gum line as they age and erupt allows the formation of diastemata and retention of packed feed causing gingivitis and then periodontal disease that leads to loosening of root attachments and periapical infection. Any malocclusion will accelerate problems. Examine for other medical issues that may influence dental health; Equine Cushing’s Syndrome, Kidney or liver disease. Change nutrition to reflect decreasing occlusal surface for mastication.

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