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


Shear Mouth, Angle of Occlusion is Steep


"Shear mouth" is the abnormally steep angle of the meeting of upper and lower molars (cheek teeth). This results in the upper and lower jaws being incapable of sliding side to side in a natural circular chewing motion. The upper and lower jaws feel stiff and difficult to move with respect to one another. It is a common problem in older horses and those that have sustained jaw injuries.

A common consequence of this locking of the jaw is the loss of the cheek muscle, and the development of long, sharp dental overgrowths. Unable to efficiently grind feed, a horse may quid, drop feed, develop diarrhea, or lose body condition.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's mouth. Contact your vet for help in management of this chronic problem.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that there is a quick fix for this problem. It requires long-term management.

your vet's role

Shear mouth is not a simple problem to fix. In most cases, treatment involves routine dental examination and repeated removal of dental overgrowths.

In some cases, improvement requires resolution of the underlying cause. In some cases, the condition can gradually be improved upon with repeated dental treatment.

Importantly, your vet can also help you develop a management and feeding program that works, considering the horse's inability to properly chew and process feed.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the horse?
  • Does the horse have difficulty chewing or eating?
  • 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?
  • Are you considering the horse for purchase, or currently own the horse?
  • How long ago was the horse's most recent dental exam?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP