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By Mary Delorey, DVM

  • Incisors - Front teeth, just inside the lips, used to grasp, nip and pull grass (and to bite you!)
  • Premolars - First three sets of large cheek teeth, top and bottom jaws, used for grinding. There is a full deciduous set followed by a full permanent set.
  • Molars - Second three sets of large cheek teeth, top and bottom jaws, used for grinding. There are no deciduous molars; they erupt as permanent teeth.
  • Deciduous - “Baby” teeth. They are replaced by permanent teeth.
  • Permanent - “Adult” teeth. They are intended to remain for the horse’s life.
  • Arcade - Refers to a row of teeth (i.e. there are four arcades of cheek teeth and two arcades of incisors).
  • Occlusion - The contact points of opposing teeth; occlusal surface refers to the chewing or biting surfaces.
  • Malocclusion - Abnormal contact between opposing teeth.
  • “In Wear” - The point in time when opposing teeth have reached sufficient height above the gumline to grind against one another.
  • Eruption - The movement of the tooth crown out from the bone of the jaw into the mouth.
  • Shedding caps - The loss of expired baby teeth as the new permanent teeth erupt to take their place.
  • Cheek teeth - A general term used to indicate all the grinding teeth, the premolars and molars.
  • Crown - The portion of the tooth that gradually erupts into the mouth and is used for grinding, not the root.
  • Mastication - The act of chewing or grinding food.
  • Cap - Horseman’s term for a baby tooth as it sits in place on the permanent tooth ready to erupt.