Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Front Teeth (Incisors) Abnormally Worn

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    Horses that have worn front incisors may be engaged in cribbing or other behaviors that abnormally wear down these teeth. Cribbing results in a unique wear pattern to the incisor (front) teeth, a bevel worn into the edge of the teeth. In severe cases, the teeth of cribbers can be almost completely worn down.

    Horses that run their teeth along pipe rails or stall walls also develop distinct wear patterns. Fractures and other conditions affect these front teeth too. Like every other feature of a horse, the quality of tooth material varies based on genetics and environment. Some horses have poor quality dental material that wears easily and abnormally.

    Keep in mind that horses teeth constantly erupt, so if the habit changes, eventually a more normal appearing tooth will appear. The problem, however, is that cribbing and other habits rarely changes unless drastic management changes are implemented.


    Assess your horse’s feed and mouth (wear gloves), and environment. Try to determine whether your horse is engaging in cribbing or any other behavior that impacts their teeth. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.


    Many equine vets have extensive experience and interest in equine dentistry and behavior. They will assess the problem and determine whether treatment is needed. They may also recommend management changes to eliminate or lessen the underlying behavior.

    In the case of a pre-purchase exam, look a gift (and non-gift) horse in the mouth.

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

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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