Thursday, May 1, 2008

Horse teeth: Baby teeth and floating the teeth

I don't know if I ever mentioned that my horse was losing his baby teeth. I first noticed a couple of months ago that he had permanent teeth pushing in underneath his front teeth. The baby teeth, or caps, were starting to angle toward the back of his mouth as they were pushed farther and farther up.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he had lost all but one of his caps. A couple of days ago, the stable owner found a tooth in the water barrel that we can only assume is one of Panama's:

My horse's baby tooth

The side with the brown rings, like tree trunk rings, is the biting surface. It's polished smooth from lots of eating. The white part is the part that faced front his mouth. On the backside, there is a deep hollow that the permanent tooth carved out for itself as it pushed in underneath.

These were only the front teeth, which (according to the manager of the horse rescue I visited) horses start to lose at about 2 ½ years. Since Panama will be 3 in a couple of months, that is about right.

He still has two more sets of baby teeth to lose in the front — apparently he should lose the ones on either side of the front teeth at about 3 years, and the third set at about 3 ½ years.

Here's another fun fact: Horses' teeth grow throughout their lives. The hay and grain we feed them (rather than 100 percent pasture, as they get in the wild) tends to wear their teeth unevenly, so their teeth have to be checked at least once a year for sharp edges and other problems. The vet or an equine dentist grinds down, or "floats," the teeth in order to create a smoother chewing surface.

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