Why Do Horses Scrape Their Teeth?

Why Do Horses Scrape Their Teeth?

Hey there! Have you ever noticed your horse scraping their teeth against a hard surface and wondered what the heck they were doing?

I know I have! In fact, one time I saw my horse scraping his teeth against a metal gate and I freaked out thinking he was trying to break his teeth or something.

But as it turns out, horses scrape their teeth for a completely normal and necessary reason. Read on to find out more!

The Reason Behind Tooth Scraping

Horses have a natural instinct to scrape their teeth to help maintain proper dental health.

Just like how humans need to brush their teeth to remove plaque and food particles, horses use their teeth to scrape off any excess food that gets stuck in their mouth after eating. This helps prevent dental issues such as cavities and tooth loss.

How Do Horses Scrape Their Teeth?

Horses will typically scrape their teeth on hard surfaces such as metal gates, trees, or even the ground. They will also use their tongue and the inside of their cheek to help remove any stuck food particles.

This behavior is most commonly seen in younger horses as they are still developing their teeth and need to maintain proper dental hygiene.

What If My Horse Doesn’t Scrape Their Teeth?

If your horse isn’t scraping their teeth, it could be a sign of dental issues.

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It’s important to have your horse’s teeth checked regularly by a veterinarian or equine dental specialist to ensure that their teeth are healthy and properly aligned.

If your horse is experiencing dental problems, they may not be able to properly scrape their teeth and may need additional care such as floating (filing down) or extractions.

The Evolution of Horse Teeth

Did you know that horses used to have way more teeth than they do now? Yup, it’s true. Back in the day, horses had up to 44 teeth (ouch, that’s a lot of brushing!).

But over time, their teeth evolved to be more efficient and they now only have around 36 teeth.

This is because horses are now mostly domesticated and don’t need to grind up tough plants like they used to in the wild. So, they traded in some of their grinding teeth for incisors (the teeth they use to bite off grass and other food).

The Tooth Fairy (For Horses) AKA The Equine Dental Specialist

If your horse is having dental issues, you might have to call in the tooth fairy… or rather, an equine dental specialist.

These are the people who are trained to take care of your horse’s chompers and make sure they are healthy and strong.

They use special tools to float (file down) your horse’s teeth, remove any dead or infected teeth, and even straighten out crooked teeth. They’re like the dentists for horses, and trust me, you don’t want to mess with a horse’s teeth. They can be quite grumpy when they have a toothache!

Tooth Fairy Tales

Speaking of the tooth fairy, have you ever heard the old tale that if you leave a tooth under your pillow, the tooth fairy will come and leave you a shiny quarter in its place?

Well, some people believe that if you leave a horse’s tooth under your pillow, the tooth fairy will come and leave you a shiny horseshoe in its place (or at least, that’s what I’ve heard).

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I’m not sure if this one is true or not, but if it is, I might just have to give it a try (I could really use a new horseshoe).

The Toothbrush Debate

So, you might be wondering if horses need toothbrushes just like humans do. Well, the answer is both yes and no.

While horses do have natural ways of maintaining their dental health, it is still important to provide additional care in the form of teeth floating and regular teeth cleanings.

Some people use toothbrushes and toothpaste specifically made for horses to help remove plaque and tartar build-up.

However, others believe that using toothbrushes can be too harsh on a horse’s delicate mouth tissues and instead opt for natural remedies such as feeding hay and providing chew toys to help keep their teeth clean.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use a toothbrush on your horse is up to you and your veterinarian or equine dental specialist. Just remember to keep those chompers clean!

Horse Teeth vs. Human Teeth

Horses and humans have some differences when it comes to their teeth. For starters, horses have way more teeth than humans do. As mentioned earlier, horses have around 36 teeth, while humans only have 32 (unless you count those pesky wisdom teeth).

Another big difference is that horse’s teeth are continuously growing. This is why it’s important for them to constantly scrape their teeth and have them floated by a professional to maintain proper dental health. Humans, on the other hand, stop growing new teeth once they reach adulthood.

Horse Teeth vs. Shark Teeth

Okay, so this one might be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. Have you ever noticed that horse teeth and shark teeth have a similar appearance? They both have pointy, jagged edges and are used for grinding and tearing food.

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In fact, the term “floating” a horse’s teeth actually comes from the practice of floating logs in the lumber industry.

The process of filing down a horse’s teeth is similar to how logs were shaped and smoothed by floating them in a body of water and allowing the natural elements to wear them down. So, in a way, horse teeth and shark teeth do have something in common!


Do all horses scrape their teeth?

Not all horses will exhibit this behavior, but it is a common and natural instinct for many horses.

Can horses get cavities like humans?

Yes, horses can get cavities, although it is less common than in humans due to their diet and natural dental hygiene habits.

However, it is still important to maintain proper dental care for your horse to prevent cavities and other dental issues.

Is it bad if my horse scrapes their teeth too much?

It is not necessarily bad for your horse to scrape their teeth, as long as they are not scraping to the point where they are causing harm to their teeth or gums.

However, if you are concerned about your horse’s dental health, it is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or equine dental specialist.

The Bottom Line: Why Your Horse Scrapes Their Teeth and What You Need to Know

So there you have it! Now you kno

w all about why horses scrape their teeth and how to maintain proper dental health for your furry friend. Remember to keep an eye on your horse’s dental hygiene and consult with a professional if you have any concerns.

And who knows, maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the horse tooth fairy in action (just don’t leave your horse’s teeth under your pillow… I’m not sure if the tooth fairy will appreciate that).



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