Horse Dentistry: Removing a horse’s wolf teeth

February 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Many horses have very small, vestigial teeth known as wolf teeth. They are very rudimentary teeth not even resembling any of the other molars about the size of a human’s baby tooth that are found just in front of the first big cheek tooth. Many veterinarians and equine dentists when they find these teeth remove them based on customary practice. However it may not be absolutely necessary to have these teeth removed. Looking at the wolf teeth and seeing how small they are, and when in their proper position, they should not interfere with the bit, it is hard to see how they can cause problems and should not need to be removed. However there are a few times when it is necessary to have them removed.

A few reasons to have them removed are when the wolf teeth are sharp causing pain on the cheeks when pressure is put on the bit. When the wolf teeth are displaced forward away from the first cheek tooth or they are so large causing them to be in the way of the bit. Some wolf teeth do become loose or diseased which may cause pain. If the wolf teeth are not causing any of these problems then it may not be necessary to have to have them removed.

To have them removed it is imperative to have a qualified equine dentist or veterinarian remove them. Although it is usually a simple procedure there are some complications that can arise especially in the process of removing them. The palatine artery is nearby and a slip can create a very messy problem with very severe bleeding, using the proper tools in the hands of an experienced person can prevent this mishap.

So if a horse has wolf teeth it does not automatically mean they need to be removed. They will need to be removed if they are positioned too far forward or in the lower jaw instead of the upper jaw interfering with the bit. If they are so large that they interfere with the bit or if they move or damaged in some other way they should be removed by a qualified professional. Otherwise it just is not necessary to remove them.

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About Dr Daniel Beatty
An Infopreneur with a Veterinary Medicine degree.