Pulling Wolf Teeth- do or don't?

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by plainjanemw, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. plainjanemw

    plainjanemw Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2007
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    My two friends who are experienced horse people in their 50's say NOT to have my horse's wolf teeth pulled. They say none of their horses have had this done and are doing just fine, even when the horses are ridden and a bit is used. However, I've heard other people say that it needs to be done b/c the bit can rub and cause pain/discomfort.
    My situation is I have an 11 yr. old horse who has never been trained- no bit, no saddle. I would like to start adding equipment and really get to the nitty-gritty of getting closer to being able to ride. However, I don't want to put a bit in if it is going to cause him pain and GIVE him a reason to dislike it, and then have to have dental work done and re-train that the bit won't hurt b/c of his Wolf teeth.
    If I were to have his Wolf Teeth pulled, what is the approximate cost, and how long does it take for this to heal? One of my friends said she thought this was an 'older school of thought', but I could ask around and see.
    As far as my plans for my little horse, I would like to see us be able to enter competitive trail riding or endurance riding and possibly some English classes, once we actually are able to ride!
    Please let me know your thoughts, opinions and experiences. I really don't want to put him through something like that unless it is necessary and highly beneficial.

    Thanks y'all! I appreciate it! :)
  2. Dicey

    Dicey Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2007
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    Well, it really can depend on the individual horse, but I would at least have a vet/horse dentist out to check his mouth. I didn't have my 2-year-old gelding's wolf teeth out (because I thought his previous owner had already done it!) before I started him under saddle, and he ended up with broken wolf teeth that were stabbing him in the gums every time he had a bit in his mouth. I felt so awful!:blushing: So my advice would be to have a vet out to check his mouth and see if he needs any dentistry done before putting a bit in - he might and he might not, but you don't want to risk hurting him.
  3. Top Dun

    Top Dun Senior Member+

    Sep 11, 2004
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    some horses actually loose their wolf teeth on their own and don't need to be pulled. Others don't loose them it would be best to have it checked just in case.
  4. Morri

    Morri Senior Member+

    Sep 29, 2005
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    Before I would put a bit in your horse's mouth, I would have his all teeth checked. Any sharp hooks or tooth problems that may not be noticable without a bit could become apparent when you start bitting him. That said, here is some info on wolf teeth for ya :D

    Wolf Teeth
    by Bryan L. Boone, DVM

    We started breaking our yearlings and our veterinarian says some of them need their wolf teeth taken out. What are wolf teeth, and why don't all the horses have them? Also, why do they have to come out now rather than earlier or later? The majority of yearlings that are being broken will have wolf teeth, probably about 75-80%. Wolf teeth are the first upper pre-molars, and they are vestigial, which means they are not as fully formed as the other pre-molars and don't really have a function in the horse today like they probably did thousands of years ago. They are located at the back of the interdental space-the space between the incisors and the molars. Usually they are located just in front of the upper (maxillary) second pre-molar, which is the first tooth that actually looks like a molar. I've never seen a wolf tooth on the lower jaw (mandible), but there are reports in the literature of them being there.

    The bottom arcade is where the bit lies in most performance horses, but in racehorses the bit tends to be up in that interdental space and hits those wolf teeth in the upper arcade and can cause the horse problems.

    Tradition has dictated that they are prophylactically taken out because occasionally they cause problems with the bit, which fits in the interdental space.

    Trainers don't like horses to develop bad habits with their mouth, which can happen if the horse is uncomfortable with the bit hitting a wolf tooth. Trainers also don't want to stop on a young horse's training program to take out a wolf tooth that is causing problems. Probably 99% of the people have them taken out because they think at some point the wolf teeth will cause problems. I'm not sure it's always justified, but as soon as you tell someone they don't have to take the tooth out, it's going to be the one that will cause a problem right before the horse is ready to make its first start.

    So, wolf teeth are routinely taken out when yearlings are being broken in the late fall or early in their two-year-old year. Usually they have erupted or broken the surface of the gumline by then. Occasionally you have some that haven't erupted, but you can feel where they are and usually see a reddened area where they will erupt. You do this procedure when you are floating their teeth and smoothing their pre-molars. In all, the process takes maybe 10-15 minutes per horse. Some can be hard to get out and be a more complicated process, but usually it's not a long procedure.

    In order to take them out you separate the periodontal membrane from the small tooth. It's usually about a half-inch of tooth and three-quarters of an inch of roots. The biggest tooth I've extracted was about three-quarters of an inch long with roots an inch long. Even if they have not erupted, they need to be taken out. They can still interfere with the bit.

    Once you have the tooth loosened, you can lift it out by using the second pre-molar as a fulcrum. There are some other instruments that go all the way around the tooth and cut around it, but that's not the way I prefer to do it.

    I usually use sedation, but it's not necessary. It just seems to facilitate the process and makes it easier on the horse, the handler, and the veterinarian. Also, the palantine artery lies along the inside of the upper arcade. If it is damaged it can bleed seriously, but it's not life-threatening. That's really the major concern in extracting the wolf teeth.

    Invariably, veterinarians and owners get busy and we don't get to the horses that need to have this done before they start training.

    The horses that have trouble with their mouth-the horses whose wolf teeth really cause problems-are the ones that have wolf teeth that aren't right against the second pre-molar. They are some distance away from that second pre-molar. I guess because of the space the wolf teeth are not protected by that second pre-molar. That lets the bit beat around on the wolf tooth and causes periodontal disease, inflammation, and soreness around the tooth. Those are the horses that the riders and trainers say need to be done right away because their teeth are bothering them.

    I've seen older riding horses, like Western pleasure horses, that are seven or eight years old and have really big wolf teeth that don't cause any problems. That's because they were positioned perfectly right up against the second pre-molars.

    I still feel I see more wolf teeth in colts than fillies, but just a little bit more. That's not to confuse owners with canine teeth, which erupt when the horse is four or five years old and are seldom seen in females. Canines are also in the interdental space, but they are prominent, permanent types of teeth. They are far more prevalent in males than females. They come in equi-distant between the incisors and pre-molars. When you see canine teeth in mares, they are usually on the bottom and are usually rudimentary.

    Bryan L. Boone, DVM, is a general equine practitioner and an associate with the Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary firm near Lexington, Ky. A 1989 graduate of Oklahoma State University, Boone does much of the dental work for the practice.​

    [FONT=new times roman, geneva]From the Association of Equine Practitioners[/FONT]
  5. Mare

    Mare Senior Member

    Jun 20, 2006
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    When my colts are gelded the vet always pulls the wolf teeth. He doesnt even ask its just done. Which I like.
  6. Friesiangirl

    Friesiangirl Senior Member

    Jun 21, 2005
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    Stormy has huge studly ones. I simple had to rounded to a point. He was so old when I got him for it, he's used to them. (He was seven, guess that isn't too old). They don't get in the way, of anything. Which is nice. Some horses sit right around the bit and the bit can clank on them, those should be removed.
  7. kellypistachio

    kellypistachio Full Member

    Jul 31, 2005
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    Hi! One of my horses came from my mom, she had him for 10 years before he came to our place. He's 16, and the main horse I ride. About 6 months ago he started having problems accepting the bit. I had the vet out and they floated his teeth and pulled his wolf teeth. The vet showed me where they were rubbing against his cheek and causing little ulcer/canker sores. I waited about a week after they were pulled before I tried the bit, he's been great, no problems since.

    My parents definitely don't see the need for pulling wolf teeth, but I think this situation was proof, at least for my horse!

    PS - the cost for a float and pulling two wolf teeth, including sedative, etc.. was $120.00. I'm in Becker, MN. Not sure if that would be comparable to where you are or not.

    Good luck!
  8. BettyBootsy

    BettyBootsy Banned

    Feb 4, 2007
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    I've seen wolf teeth make horses crazy as in behavioral issues and I've seen em with no problems so. I personally have them pulled when we geld em. 10 bucks is all it cost unless there inbeded or blind then you maybe looking at 60 bucks give or take. We never bit up a colt for the first time until there teeth are checked first impressions are important short, sweet, and smiple. Healthy and happy! We generally start everything in a rope halter and lead then we go to a bosal then a snaffle. Have fun! :)
  9. Just_me

    Just_me Senior Member+

    Jul 12, 2005
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    When we got our tb filly we were also thinking about"getting it done"because everyone adviced me to do it.But,she didn't seem to be in any discomfort so we decided to wait.Today she is 6 years old and the wolf teeth still don"t cause any issues.
    If I were you I would listen to what your horse is trying to tell you.If you watch carefully,you will know whether the tooth needs to come out or not.
  10. luv_2_gallop

    luv_2_gallop Full Member

    Oct 10, 2006
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    I would get the vet to check his teeth out first. Depending on what he says is what I would listen too as he is the profesional.

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