Thursday, 10 July 2014 01:00

BABY TEETH AND CAPS IN YOUR YOUNG HORSE - Signs of problems that can cause pain


Horses aged between 2 and 4 years old will shed 24 baby teeth, giving way for the permanent adult teeth.

When the permanent teeth begin to erupt at around two years of age, problems and discomfort may occur.

The baby teeth, which were formed within the first month of the foal's life, begin to be pushed up by the adult tooth.

It is during this process that the baby tooth deteriorate and become hollow, hence the name 'caps'. 

The front teeth are easy for the owner to keep checking however the back teeth will require professional monitoring.

In some cases a portion of the cap will be shed leaving a piece of dead tooth which may harbour food cause inflammation and possible infection to the underlying gums.

> Bumps or enlargements on the jaw line or sides of mouth.
> Sensitivity to touch on the cheeks or face.
> Reluctance to accept a bit or restraint from head collar.
> Excessive salivation and dribbling feed out while eating.
> Irregular chewing action and tilting of head whilst eating.
> Passing un-chewed forage in droppings

Mouth pain and discomfort will not only effect feeding habits but also present problems in training and behaviour.


On the left you can see a cap on top of the permanent tooth and on the right you can see a couple of caps that have been removed.

In the right hand picture, the long table legs that secure the cap onto the tooth come loose and can irritate the horse wiggling into the gum.

A regular visit from your equine dentist is essential to identify problems and deal with any issues.
retained caps


As in humans, baby teeth often become loose and fall out naturally during eating, however sometimes these hollow caps are retained and cause inflammation of the gums, a painful mouth and occasionally a sinus problem.

 Left untreated the retained teeth may cause the permanent tooth to grow at an improper angle or become impacted.

If you have any concerns seek professional advise.

Read all about other dental problems that can occur in your horse