Horses are fascinating herbivorous animals whose teeth are crucial to their overall health. An adult horse has 36 to 44 permanent teeth but baby horses are born without teeth.
So, do horses have milk teeth?
Like human babies, baby horses (foals) are born without teeth. However, their teeth develop rapidly within the first five years.
Horses develop two sets of teeth in their lifetime. Their first set of teeth is called deciduous teeth and the second set is the adult set. Keep reading to find out more about the temporary teeth in horses.
What are milk teeth?
Milk teeth or deciduous teeth are the first set of teeth that develop. The similarity between human babies and baby horses is that they are both born without teeth. As they grow, they develop deciduous teeth which help them crush and grind food like adults.
In humans, milk teeth develop within the first 6 months after birth.
Horses have around 24 deciduous teeth that develop within the first week after birth.
The first teeth that appear in baby horses are central incisors and the premolar appears when the horse is two weeks old. The rest of their teeth develop up to when they are nine months old.
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Do horses have milk teeth?
Yes, they have. Baby horses develop 24 deciduous within the first year. Their first set of teeth is dome-shaped and they are wider. The first set of temporary teeth that develop in baby horses in the first eight days is two incisors on the upper and lower.
Their second set of deciduous teeth develops from six to eight weeks after birth. When baby horses are two weeks old, they grow twelve premolars. At this time, the horse has developed 24 temporary teeth. They include 6 lower and upper incisors and 6 lower and upper premolars.
How long do milk teeth last?
By the time a baby horse is eight months old, they develop its last temporary teeth. These teeth are later replaced by adult teeth when the horse is around 2 ½ years. At the age of 5 years, many horses develop a full set of permanent teeth.
According to a publication by Utah State University, the following is a table that shows the average time when horse teeth erupt.
|Birth or first week
|Birth or first 2 weeks
|2 ½ years
|3 ½ years
|4 ½ years
|2 ½ years
|3 ½ years – 4 years
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What happens to milk teeth when they fall out?
When baby horses are approaching their second birthday, they begin to develop permanent teeth. The milk teeth are pushed away by the permanent teeth when they grow. The milk teeth or caps remove on their own but in some cases, an equine dentist can remove them to prevent the horse from experiencing discomfort.
When the horse is about 5 years old, all 24 milk teeth are replaced by adult teeth. The permanent teeth will continue to grow throughout the life of the horse. These teeth help you to know the age of a horse.
Pro Tip: It is important to know that horse teeth wear out with time. This causes uneven surfaces with sharp edges, and this can be uncomfortable or painful for horses. Therefore, ensure your domesticated horse gets routine dental checkups by a professional equine dentist to ensure their teeth are in healthy condition. Regular checkups and maintenance can also prevent various dental problems:
- Formation of sharp enamel points on their cheeks;
- Unshed deciduous teeth;
- Broken teeth;
- Periodontal disease;
- Abnormally long teeth;
- Discomfort by contact with wolf teeth;
- Hooks on lower and upper cheek teeth;
- Teeth misalignment;
- Infected teeth and other dental problems;
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At this point, I believe you have a better understanding of milk teeth in horses, when they appear and when they are shed. Teeth are essential in the growth of horses, and they also tell the age of a horse. Horses are born without teeth and they develop deciduous teeth within the first two weeks after birth.
By the time they are 5 years old, the deciduous teeth are replaced by adult teeth. Always ensure proper dental maintenance for your horse regularly to prevent various dental conditions that can cause discomfort to your horse.
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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