Nooks, Crannies, Swales, Dipsie Doodles – Equine Dentistry

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Fun Definitions Of Things In Your Horse’s Mouth

These descriptions that I’ve coined are to relate some anatomical irregularities of horse’s teeth. If they are not addressed, sources for pain may continue to exist in the horse’s mouth. I have never been a big fan of complicated words.

Every person that floats horse teeth needs to address everything that brings discomfort inside the mouth of the horse. It is not rocket science, however, it requires knowing about the small things I talk about here.

Nooks and crannies (pictures below) describe very small pockets along the edge of the tooth where it should be smooth. Think of a serrated sharp edged knife like a bread knife. The small, sharp edge of the teeth is like that knife. This edge is difficult to file because of these irregularities which, by the way, are more pronounced in young horses. I call these prominent nooks and crannies, “lumpy bumpies.”
Annotated_nooks and crannies-9879


The “nooks” are the dips between the ridges of the teeth.


The “crannies” are the spaces between the teeth.

The dipsie doodle is a low area, or trough, that occurs in many horses in the middle of the lower and upper jaws. Often confused with “Wave Mouth” or a “Ramp” of the last lower cheek tooth, it usually affects both chewing surfaces of the lower jaw and the outsides of the upper jaw. The teeth in this area are much sharper than any other tooth in the mouth. I suspect the movement of the tongue in positioning the food wears these areas more aggressively. Smoothing these areas requires extra effort and are often missed by inexperienced floaters. Remember, the goal is to remove all causes of discomfort.

The Equine Practice Inc, Geoff Tucker DVM, Equine Dentistry Without Drama, BarnPics, Horse's Advocate
The “Dipsie Doodle” or “Swale” may be part of the normal curve of the jaw. This is a 3 year old with his last tooth not erupted (not visible). The lines indicate the angle of the float blades.

Hooks occur when a tooth has no opposing tooth to wear it down to the level of the surrounding teeth. The common cause is an overbite easily seen by parting the lips to determine if the incisors are lined up or not. A parrot mouth only affects the incisors but does not affect the cheek teeth or cause hooks. An overbite will shift all the teeth so hooks will form on the 1st upper cheek teeth – even on the caps – and after 6 years of age, on the last lower cheek teeth.

The Equine Practice Inc, Geoff Tucker DVM, Equine Dentistry Without Drama, BarnPics, Horse's Advocate
A 3 year old pony – #1- a slight overbite. #2 – hook forming. #3 Wolf Tooth. #4 Caps

The back lower hooks can prevent the mouth from fully and comfortably closing just like trying to close a door with a rock or shavings on the hinge side. Tight bridle nose bands preventing the mouth from opening accentuates the problem especially when drawing the head down (collecting). The horse usually resists and can even violently flip his head up.

Old horse tooth occurs in horses older than 17. At this age the first lower cheek teeth are running out of normally hard tooth. Softer material is exposed to the continual tongue movement. Like the old barbers who sharpened their razors on a leather strap (called a strop), the tongue sharpens these teeth to a razor’s edge. Often in very old horses, these are the only teeth that need attention.

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