Most horse owners are privy to caring for their adult horses’ teeth and diligent in obtaining proper dental care. But caring for foals’ and young horses’ deciduous (or simply put, baby) teeth is a little different, at least from a veterinary standpoint.

At the American Association of Equine Practitioners Focus on Dentistry meeting, held Sept. 18-20 in Albuquerque, N.M., Jack Easley, DVM, MS, Dipl. ABVP, a private practitioner from Equine Veterinary Practice LLC, in Shelbyville, Ky., discussed what to watch for when dealing with deciduous teeth, and what veterinarians look for when examining them.

"Knowledge of eruption times of deciduous and permanent dentition should be second nature to veterinarians working in the equine mouth," Easley said. "The shedding of deciduous teeth is an entirely natural process that generally does not require human intervention to proceed normally."

However, he noted, as with any other natural occurrence, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Some veterinary intervention could be required to put the young horse’s mouth on track for a healthy life.

Basics of Tooth Eruption

"Horses under five years of age have mixed hypsodont dentition," Easley began. "From 12 months to six years, equids shed 24 deciduous teeth and erupt 36 to 44 permanent teeth."

Easley explained that a foal’s first deciduous incisors erupt at about six days of age, followed by the second incisors at about six weeks and the third incisors at about nine months. These deci