Canine and Wolf Teeth
In the previous article we've already learnt how ignoring the dentistry needs of the horse can make him sore and unhappy in the mouth. Here, with our resident equine dentist David Waters, we will look at the Canine and Wolf Teeth.
Wolf teeth vary in size, shape and location in the horses mouth although they are most common in the upper jaw.
This top arrow in the picture shows the wolf tooth in the upper jaw.
Some owners are reluctant to have these removed unless they are causing pain however in my professional view along with vets and other dentists they should be removed.
I have extracted thousands of wolf teeth and the end result has always been for the better.
An obvious sign of a problematic wolf tooth is when you horse becomes reluctant to accept the bit and may even develop steering problems when riding them.
The action of the bit pushes the cheek towards the tooth which is the cause of the discomfort and even pain. Wolf teeth are often small peg like structures which are quite easily extracted.
Blind wolf teeth, however, are likely to be more problematic.
The picture on the right shows an extracted wolf tooth with the root.
This is when the tooth hasn't actually erupted, but instead remains completely below the 'gingiva' - the gum surface.
Simply touching this area would give the horse a great deal of discomfort.
Action here would be to provide a local anaesthetic and perform a 'Gengivectomy' where tissue over the tooth is removed to allow the tooth to erupt through before removing it.
The resulting wound heals easily in seven - ten days.
As a rule, canine teeth are only found in male horses.
This picture clearly indicates both canines.
They have four canine teeth, also known as tusks, situated between the incisors and cheek teeth. It is very rare for mares to have canine teeth but it can happen.
Canine teeth are used for fighting in males and in the wild can develop formidable sharp edges.
These teeth are long and are like ice bergs in the sense that only up to 10 or 20% of the crown is erupted, the rest lies below the gum surface.
As with Wolf Teeth, Canines can also be 'blind' and tremendously sensitive leading to behavioural problems in the ridden horse.
An expert dentist will be able to notice straight away these sensitive areas where the 'blind' teeth are lying below the gingiva and be able to treat them accordingly.
The picture on the right indicates an impacted canine tooth in the top jaw.
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