From the first to fourth years of life of a horse, the permanent teeth begin to grow in, but in order for them to grow in normally, the deciduous teeth (baby teeth), must shed. Deciduous teeth that have not been lost and sit on top of the permanent teeth are called caps. A failure of the caps to shed can result in the permanent teeth growing in at an abnormal angle, uneven surfaces of the teeth opposite to the unshed cap, or failure of the permanent tooth to grow in at all.
If your horse is showing any symptoms of dental problems, such as difficulty eating, dropping feed when it eats (called quidding), unexplained behavioral problems, resisting the bit, or head tossing, have the horse examined by your veterinarian. Sometimes there are no signs of problems and occasionally an older horse may be found to still have a retained cap after many years.
Upon inspection of your horse’s mouth, your veterinarian should be able to tell whether or not there is a dental cap issue. Retained deciduous teeth will typically cause recognizable misalignment of the tooth line. Soreness and inflammation may also be apparent upon examination.
A type of instrument used to make a body cavity or canal larger
A medical condition; horses drop food out of their mouths while eating
The name for the species of horses, donkeys, mules
Temporary teeth that go away as maturity approaches