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Common Problems 

As it quite hard to see while your dentist is working, here is a list of a few possible issues that could be found in your horse / donkeys mouth. 

Sharp Enamel Points 

Sharp enamel points naturally develop over time as the horse / donkeys teeth erupt. This untreated can cause lacerations and ulcers to the cheeks and to the tongue. These sharp points can be very painful, some horses will show signs such as quidding, some may not show any signs at all. 


Just like ours equine teeth can become diseased or infected, this is what is known as caries. Caries can be peripheral or infundibular, both types can lead to fractures and / or sinus infection, 

infundibular caries can be filled in, in some cases to help reduce the risk of this happening. Peripheral caries affect the sides of the teeth, it's usually suggested forage changes such as hay instead of haylage. 

Displaced Teeth

Displacements can occur for many reasons, trauma, retained caps, old age but is usually due to overcrowding, this is more common in breeds with small heads such as Arabs, miniatures, section A's.

Displaced teeth can cause ulceration to surrounding soft tissue, they can also create pockets where food can get trapped and cause painful periodontal disease.

Depending on their severity they can be maintained with frequent dental check ups or in some cases they may require extraction.      


A diastema is a gap between two teeth, they very often become impacted with food status and over time this will start to decay, if untreated they can cause periodontal disease and can become very painful. Regularly picking and flushing out the impacted food will help to prevent it from decaying.  

Deciduous Teeth

Deciduous teeth are also known as baby or milk teeth, they are a lot smaller and whiter than permanent teeth. They start to loose there deciduous teeth at 2.5 yrs and should have all their permanent teeth in wear by 5 yrs (canines can erupt up to 7yrs). Horses between these ages will often have eruption cysts (baby bumps) on there upper and lower jaw, these will disappear as the permanent tooth erupts.   

Often issues can occur when shedding their deciduous teeth (caps), they may become retained or fracture this can be painful and also lead to displacements of the newly erupting permanent tooth, because of this check ups every 6 months is recommended on under 6yr olds. 

Focal Overgrowth

Focal overgrowth (hooks and ramps) can be found on the first or last, upper or lower cheek teeth. These overgrowths can be due to a misalignment of the jaw from an over or underbite or likewise can be the focal overgrowth can be the cause of an under or overbite. Overgrowths left untreated will continue to get bigger over time, this will cause restricted movement to the jaw may cause lacerations to the soft tissue and be very painful. Large overgrowths may need to be reduced in stages overtime.      

Excessive Transverse Ridge 

Also Known as ETR, this is where part of the tooth is of excessive height, whilst transverse ridging is essential for the grinding of food status an excessive ridge will put pressure on the opposing teeth, possibly causing a diastema. ETR can also restrict movement of the jaw, effecting riding and mastication.

Missing Teeth or Supernumary Teeth

When teeth are missing the opposing tooth has nothing to wear against this causes it to erupt into the gap, effectively locking the jaw, causing discomfort and restricting its natural essential movements. Supernumary (extra) teeth can also cause this problem as they have nothing to wear against. In both cases the tooth that is to long needs to be manually worn regularly by your dentist. 

Wolf Teeth 

Wolf teeth are vestigial teeth, they can be different sizes, shapes, unerupted, displaced. They can be found just in front of the molars, they pose know real purpose and usually erupt between 5-12 months, not all equines have them and not all wolf teeth cause a problem, however extraction is the only way to know if they are. Extraction at a younger age is recommended as over time the root becomes more attached to the bone.        

Incisor Curves and Slant

When looking at the incisors they should appear almost horizontal, problems arise when they are not ventral (smile) or dorsal (frown) curve means or slant means that one or more of the incisors are too long this means that the incisors are pulling the cheek teeth apart preventing full contact, restricting movement and natural wear.  

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