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


Tooth, Lost & Found


Older horses lose their teeth. This is a natural part of the aging process. It can probably be slowed down by routine dental care. That said, the reserve crown of old horse teeth finally runs out and the tooth falls out. These teeth are often found by owners or stall cleaners. Molar teeth are large and block-like with a variable shaped root.

Young, growing horses lose their baby (deciduous) teeth. These are usually thin, serrated, wafer like "caps" that detach from the permanent tooth as it erupts. This is also normal and expected.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • To ensure a correct diagnosis, have your vet examine the horse.

your role


What To Do

Watch both the young horse and the old horse for difficulty eating. Recognize that loose teeth are part of these life stages. In this case, let your vet know you found a tooth, and that might indicate others are loose. Often the same tooth on the opposite side of the mouth will also be lost or loose. monitor your horse for any difficulty eating.

If you have any concern about whether the loss of the tooth is causing your horse difficulty eating, share your concerns with your vet. You should also keep the tooth to show your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet performs a dental exam, looking for other problem teeth. For growing horses, vets typically remove caps when they are loose or trapping feed. The loss of a cap should not cause the horse any noticeable trouble.

Vets also extract loose teeth in older horses. This is often necessary because a loose tooth causes pain and irritation.

Finally, the opposing teeth will need to be shortened regularly because it will erupt into the space created by the missing tooth, causing problems.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the horse?
  • Has your horse had a dental exam performed by a vet or dental tech working with a vet?
  • How long ago was the horse's most recent dental exam?
  • Does the horse have a history of dental problems?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP