Horses have different types of teeth which include incisors, premolars, and molars. However, if you look closely inside the mouth of your horse, you will notice some types of teeth that do not look like the rest. These teeth are called wolf teeth (vestigial teeth) and they develop in front of cheek teeth. They also have different sizes and shapes.
Wolf’s teeth are common in 70% of horses, and they mostly cause no harm. In most cases, they are removed because they can cause pain or discomfort when they touch the bit.
If you want to remove your horse’s wolf teeth, you are probably asking what is the cost of removing wolf teeth in horses. Stick with me till the end to find out more.
What are wolf teeth?
Wolf’s teeth refer to the first premolar teeth that develop in horses. They are small, peg-shaped and they can grow in horses regardless of their gender.
They appear when the horse is between 5-12 months old. These unique teeth commonly grow in the upper jaw but in some horses, they can grow in the lower jaw.
Most vestigial teeth in horses appear through the gum but others can stay hidden and they are called blind wolf teeth. The teeth are smaller compared to the rest of the horse’s teeth and they do not wear unevenly or are overgrown like the rest of the teeth.
So, why do horses develop wolf teeth? To answer this question, we will date back to wolf teeth in horses. According to fossil records, horse ancestors ate shrubs and low bushes which is a different diet from what modern horses eat. The ancient horses were smaller (the size of a dog) and they had smaller cheek teeth. When they started eating grass, their size increased and their teeth also grew bigger.
This made the wolf teeth no longer useful and they started to disappear over many horse generations. Even after many years, today’s horses still develop wolf teeth.
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The signs of a horse with wolf teeth
How do you tell if your horse has wolf teeth, and do they pose any harm? Wolf teeth commonly appear in the upper jaw but there are cases where they appear on the lower jaw in some horses. They can even appear on one side and none on the other side. Most of the wolf teeth appear on the gum but others can be hidden.
When a horse has wolf teeth, there are several behaviors it shows. The common signs that can help you know your horse has vestigial teeth include: head tossing;
- Pulling hard;
- Head tilting;
- Avoiding taking one lead;
All the above signs show that the wolf teeth are causing discomfort and they need to be removed. While vestigial teeth do not cause problems in many horses, you need to remove them if they disturb rasping molars.
The teeth also need to be removed if they are sharp and lead to pain on the cheeks upon applying pressure on the bridle or bit. You should also remove them if they are loose or diseased.
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The risks of leaving wolf teeth in horses
If you are considering removing the vestigial teeth, it is essential to ensure the dental procedure is carried out by experienced and trained personnel. In addition, you should vaccinate your horse against tetanus before tooth removal.
Removing wolf teeth is easy because they have shallow roots. The procedure should be conducted under sedation and the vet should remove the tooth and the root without causing gum trauma. Even when exercising extreme care in removing the teeth, there are some risks associated with wolf teeth removal. (Read details cost about horse vet).
For instance, some wolf teeth can get fractured and this can lead to root fragments in the gum. While root fragments might not cause a problem in the early stages, they can become loose later and easily be seen on the surface of this gum. In this case, another extraction is needed.
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Removing wolf teeth in horses can lead to damage to the palatal artery that is located at the roof of the horse’s mouth. Damages to this major blood vessel can lead to profuse hemorrhage that can be uncomfortable for the horse. It is good to use a local anesthetic to minimize the risks of damaging the artery or root fracture.
The cost of removing wolf teeth
If you have decided to remove vestigial teeth for your horse, the next thing you should be concerned about is the total cost of the dental procedure. There is no fixed cost of removing wolf teeth in horses. The cost can vary based on the horse’s weight and other factors.
Some of the factors that contribute to the total cost include the visit, full dental examination, sedation, performance rasping, and teeth removal. Other factors include whether there will be dental fillings, dental extractions, travel fees, and the number of horses undergoing the procedure.
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Other extra dental procedure costs include wolf teeth extraction ($50), retained baby teeth extraction ($10-$35), advanced incisor reduction ($25-$65), sheath cleaning ($32), and Coggins testing ($38).
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Wolf’s teeth appear in many horses and it is easy to confuse them with large canine teeth. The presence of these teeth causes no harm to the horse but in other situations, they need to be removed. If you are uncertain about whether to remove wolf teeth, consult your veterinary surgeon for the right advice.
There is no need of removing wool teeth if they have never been bitted, or ridden, or if they appear in older horses and cause no issue. Remove wolf teeth if the horse is young before backing.
They are wobbly, cause discomfort to the horse, they are in the lower jaw, or if they are blind wolf teeth. I hope you have the right information about removing vestigial teeth and how much money you need to spend.
Zunnun AhmedWe are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.
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