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Did you ever wonder why, when the dry season comes, grass merely turns yellow but does not wilt like your houseplants do when they need water? Grass blades are internally supported by a ladder-like "skeleton" of silica. This is in addition to cell walls like those which make a stalk of celery stiff. Silica is what a pane of glass is made of, or quartz rock, or sand. With every mouthful of food he takes, it is as if your horse has to chew up a certain amount of ground glass.

Since his diet differs so much from yours, there are a lot of differences between your mouth and teeth and those of your horse. The first thing to notice about the normal equine mouth as a whole is that, when the mouth is closed, the incisors and cheek teeth meet bluntly and simultaneously. The lengths and angles of the incisors and cheek teeth must match precisely to permit the horse to chew properly. By contrast, your incisors overlap to allow your cheek teeth to meet.

The length of the crowns of the teeth in horses is much greater than in people. Most of the length of your horse's cheek teeth is "stored" within his upper and lower jaws. Only about 1/2 inch of each cheek tooth actually protrudes from the gum. As grass wears the teeth, they push out from their sockets like lipsticks. The pressure of chewing helps the body regulate the rate at which the teeth push out.

Equine teeth vs human teeth
The equine teeth

In the wild, when an animals's teeth wear out, it dies. Long tooth crowns are the main factor that compensates for the abrasive silica in grass, and thus in the wild, are the ultimate determinant of a horse's lifespan. Domestic horses can be kept alive on special feeds even after all teeth have worn out. However, this is a last resort. Modern equine dentistry can significantly extend the useful lifetime of your horse's teeth as well as enhance his comfort and your safety under the artificial condition of bitting.

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The information and illustrations in this section are kindly provided by the Canadian Equine Dental Consultants and the American Equine Dental Consultants. For further information please visit their website - click here
Canadian Equine Dental Consultants Canadian Equine Dental Consultants
American Equine Dental Consultants
American Equine Dental Consultants