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Caps and Bumps

Caps and Teething Bumps

Author: Sam Bescoby BVSc CertEM(Stud Med) BAEDT MRCVS

At birth or within a few days, foals will have 12 temporary premolars (cheek teeth). These teeth are replaced by their permanent successors, the adult premolars, at 2.5 years, 3 years and 4 years.

At these points in time the deciduous (baby) tooth to be shed will have been worn down to a ‘cap’.

You may also notice symmetrical bumps on the lower jaw of your horse at around the ages of 3-4 and this is related to the eruption of the permanent premolars.

This is usually a natural process without complication. However sometimes the deciduous tooth, by this stage a ‘cap’, may not fall out and this can lead to a retained cap and possibly symptoms of dental pain.

It is important to keep a close eye on the symmetry of your horse’s jaw and the bumps at this important age. If you find one side is larger than the other or the bumps are painful to touch and squeeze then we advise you seek help ASAP.

Most cases of mouth pain at this age are easily righted with the removal of retained caps if present, however, it is vital to check for this straight away to rule out future problems and any other causes of oral pain.

The same process happens with incisors and these are more readily checked as you do not need a gag to look. We do see abnormalities of eruption at around 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 years and again it is important to act on any concerns as soon as possible.


Permanent incisor growing behind the deciduous tooth


Here you can see the erupting permanent incisor pushing out the deciduous incisor



Deciduous premolars or 'caps' can still be present alongside permanent premolars











Asymmetry between the LH and RH teething bumps in young horses indicates abnormalities. 






Other articles from the DDC:

Wolf Teeth - what are they and what do we do with them?

Veteran Care - keeping the older horse happy

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