Equine Wolf Teeth Extraction

Wolf teeth (Triadan 05) are vestigial premolars that may interfere with bit use and cause discomfort for horses, while also hindering dental technicians from creating an appropriate bit seat sculpture.

Wolf tooth extraction is usually an uncomplicated procedure performed under sedation and pain relief, with most horses recovering quickly with minimal complications.

The Procedure

Wolf teeth are vestigal remains from horses’ evolutionary ancestor’s days of browsing for food (and snapping twigs), dating back two to three centimeters in front of the first cheek teeth and present both colts and fillies. They typically sit two to three centimeters in front of first cheek teeth; 40-80% of cases will show clinical crown displacement from its normal location on the lateral aspect of the mouth (sometimes known as being “bit seated”). Most commonly they occur in upper jaw but sometimes lower jaw as well. Multi-rooted versions exist as well; although, these fail to erupt completely (the majority do come out).

Once an animal is fully sedated and anaesthetised, a sharp and clean elevator tool is used to cut through its gum around each wolf tooth, stretching the periodontal ligament and loosening it so it can be grasped with forceps for removal. As wolf teeth come in various sizes and shapes this may take anywhere between minutes and more depending on its individual tooth.

Wolf teeth can often be extracted without breaking their roots due to their shallow nature, making the procedure extremely straightforward under sedation and local anaesthetic. Radiographs may be taken before and after extraction for monitoring purposes. Postoperative care varies between no post-care needed in the case of teeth with very shallow roots in young horses and daily lavage (flushing) of wound sites for those with deeper roots for teeth extractions.


Wolf teeth, or vestigial pre-molars, typically emerge between 5-12 months of age in the upper jaw of both colts and fillies, erupting rostral to the maxillary 2nd premolar (Triadan 06). Though nonfunctional and often associated with discomfort when they come in contact with bits, these vestigial pre-molars serve no functional purpose and must remain visible as visual reminders.

Although some veterinary dental practitioners perform wolf tooth extractions routinely, this should not be the recommended procedure as doing so does not completely extract their roots, leading to infection or abscessation. Instead, extraction should be undertaken under sedation with systemic and local analgesia provided to minimise any associated discomfort.

Most wolf teeth will have fallen out by the time your horse turns one year old; however, some may remain and require removal at this stage so that they do not calcify and fuse to bone structures. It is crucial that these wolf teeth be addressed promptly to prevent future complications with bone calcification or fused growths from taking place.

At an equine wolf tooth extraction procedure, the tooth is extracted using an elevator tool before its surrounding periodontal ligament is stretched so its root can be grasped with forceps and pulled with them. The procedure typically lasts only minutes with horses usually recovering quickly with no complications afterward. Before receiving this procedure, tetanus vaccination must be up-to-date and soft soaked hay stretchers or pelleted mash should be provided postoperatively and lavaged daily to keep food particles away from becoming trapped under surgical site’s pressure or worse causing infection.


Wolf teeth are vestigial first upper premolars that have been linked to various bitting issues in horses, such as headshaking or refusal to accept the bit. Although they can sometimes come close to or more distantly be attached to 06 deciduous cheek teeth, when in their normal positions wolf teeth should not interfere with bitting; however, any that become dislodged, enlarged, erupting (‘blind’) or otherwise become painful should always be extracted as soon as they start interfering with bitting – just like any incisors that come into contact with the bit contacting it.

Wolf tooth extractions are relatively painless procedures that typically take place under sedation and local anaesthetic in standing patients, typically performed by trained equine dental technicians or vets. As with any extraction procedure, it’s vitally important that patients be protected against tetanus; any small puncture wounds created during extractions provide the perfect environment for bacteria responsible for this potentially life-threatening infection to thrive and spread.

An effective, efficient, and safe method known as infiltration anesthesia adapted from human dentistry is often utilized when performing small, sedative veterinary dental procedures like tooth extraction. This simple yet reliable process provides pain relief while simultaneously keeping the surgical site quiet and stable during an operation.


Wolf teeth are remnants from modern horses’ evolutionary ancestors that need to be extracted at times. Found both upper and lower jaws, these uni-rooted or multi-rooted wolf teeth may erupting or have failed to do so altogether (known as blind wolf teeth).

At routine dental floats, sharp edges of these teeth may cause avoidance behaviors like head tossing, bucking, rearing and bolting in an effort to alleviate pain; or they may refuse to take one lead when being ridden. To address this problem, often these teeth must be extracted before the procedure can proceed further.

Removing these teeth is usually performed under sedation with an elevator tool cutting around each tooth and then stretching or breaking periodontal ligaments that bind it, loosening these so forceps can grasp it and easily remove it – this usually takes between several minutes and 30 minutes.

As soon as your horse has undergone a wolf tooth extraction, it is vital that they rest until the sockets have healed, which may take anywhere from one week or longer depending on its individual site and condition. Furthermore, make sure your horse is up-to-date on all vaccinations including tetanus as anaerobic wounds left by this procedure can allow tetanus bacteria to flourish and cause infection.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *