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


Front Teeth (Incisors) Look Abnormal


You happen to look at your horse's incisor teeth and notice an abnormality. Maybe they are worn, uneven or discolored. Maybe one of the incisors appears chipped or broken. There are many possibilities.

The incisor teeth are the front, nipping teeth and are by far the easiest teeth in the horse's mouth to visualize. The baby teeth (deciduous incisor teeth) appear in the first months of life and are replaced by adult (permanent) between the age of 2 and 5 years.

The incisors usually do not cause horses much trouble. Horses can even survive without them. The teeth that grind feed are the cheek teeth located in the rear of the mouth, and these are hard to visualize without proper training and equipment.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you think your horses may be in need of routine dental care.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Consider whether the horse is showing any signs of discomfort, salivation or difficulty eating. Take a photo of the problem and share it with your vet, so that they can determine whether an evaluation is necessary.

your vet's role

Many incisor problems are not accompanied by other problems or abnormalities and do not require aggressive veterinary treatment. Some wear abnormalities, like incisor smiles, frowns and slants, are simply managed as part of a comprehensive dental management plan.

However, problems that cause discomfort or may lead to other issues may need to be treated. By performing a dental exam, your vet can make a diagnosis and provide treatment options.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What, specifically, do you see?
  • Does the horse seem to be having difficulty eating or dropping feed?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Does the horse have a history of dental problems?
  • Has your horse had a dental exam performed by a vet or dental tech working with a vet?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

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

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP