What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Front Teeth (Incisors) Abnormally Worn


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. Fortunately, stabled horses are able to do well and maintain their weight without their incisors.

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.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

your role


What To Do

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.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Have you notice the horse engage in cribbing?
  • Are you considering the horse for purchase, or currently own the horse?
  • Does your horse show any other signs of dental problems, such as difficulty eating, slow eating, dro
  • When was the horse's last dental exam by a vet or dental tech working with a vet?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Does the horse seem normal to you otherwise?
  • Can you send me a photo?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP