Horses between the age of two and a half and four and a half are in the process of growing in their adult teeth. They have 24 baby teeth to replace in all.
We can tell about this process by looking at, or feeling, the bottom of the jaw. As the adult teeth come in the pressure formed by the adult teeth pushing against the baby teeth causes ‘eruption bumps’ to form along the jaw. The same thing is happening on the upper jaw. Mostly hidden in the nasal cavity those bumps aren’t as noticeable.
These eruption bumps can be useful in checking the health of our horses and the process of the new teeth. Hard to the touch, these bumps shouldn’t bother the horse at all.
Knowing the bumps are there and that teething is going on can help us pin point causes of head shaking or discomfort in a bit. Even without any complications the process of growing in new teeth can make a horses mouth uncomfortable.
If the bumps become inflamed or painful to the touch we know to look for problems. Sometimes caps, baby teeth, will be retained and extremely difficult for the adult teeth to push out. A vet may decide the caps need help coming out to relieve the pressure. Although retained caps and other issues along those lines can lead to pain and the resulting behavioral issues, caps should never be pulled without a veterinarians guidance. The erupting molar can be damaged by over enthusiastic extraction.
Jaw bumps are perfectly natural, most of the time. They give us a good way to tell what is going on inside the horses mouth. They also help us to know when to step in and get help for our horses if things aren’t going well.