Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Retained Caps, Deciduous Teeth

Each permanent tooth in the mouth has an eruption time. For most teeth, the permanent tooth displaces the preexisting deciduous or baby tooth. The thin, small baby tooth is adhered to the crown of the new permanent. With time, it usually loosens and falls off.

In some cases though, these “caps” can hang on, causing irritation to the soft tissues of the mouth and trapping feed material. This problem appears similar to other mouth or dental problems, i.e. difficulty chewing and discomfort with a bit.

Overly aggressive removal of caps before their time can result in long term serious problems for the permanent. The baby tooth has a protective function for the budding permanent tooth.


  • Does that cap really need to be removed now?

    Annual or semi-annual dental exam by a vet with an interest in equine dentistry is recommended.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

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    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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