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Give your Goats Healthy Teeth

The dental anatomy of goats

Like all the other domestic animals’ goats also have two successive sets of teeth. The first set is called deciduous teeth, or milk teeth, as the animal ages these teeth are replaced by a permanent set of teeth. The kids have a set of 20 deciduous teeth, which come in by the age of 2 weeks.  The first pair of milk teeth incisors erupts between the time of birth to 1 week of age and the second pair erupts at 1 to2 week of age. The permanent teeth start to erupt nearly at the age of one year. The sequence is like this between 1 to 1.5 years of age erupts the first pair of incisors, 1.5 to 2 years the second pair, 2.5 to 3 years for the third, and 3.5 to 4 for the fourth pair of incisors erupts. By the time a goat reaches at the age of 4, all permanent teeth (32) are in place. That is how teeth are used as the estimation of goats’ age. To estimate the age in goats older than 4 years the amount of wear on the teeth is taken into consideration.  As these animals age, their incisors begin to go apart and become damaged and gaps have been created in between the teeth. Goats older than five years of age, their incisors start to shed and in general terms, these are referred to as “broken mouth”.

Like other ruminants such as cattle, sheep; goats are also hypsodonts that are their teeth have a lot of crowns that constantly grow to compensate for the continuous crushing during grazing.

 The goats, unlike horses, have incisors only on the bottom. On the top they have a dental pad, which is a thick & hard gum line which is used to tear off grass, biting the hay with the bottom incisors. However, they have molars on the top and bottom.

In scientific terms, the permanent teeth are termed as incisor (I), canine (C), premolar (P), and molar (M); and for claves just ‘deciduous’ is added before these names namely Di, Dc, and Dp. The canine tooth is generally counted as a fourth incisor.

The dental formulas

Each formula represents the number of teeth a goat has on either side of its upper and lower jaws. When this number is multiplied by two the resultant is the total number of teeth in the mouth. The numerator is the upper jaw teeth number, and the denominator shows the lower jaw teeth number.

Deciduous Teeth: 2(Di 0/4; Dc 0/0; Dp 3/3) = 20

Permanent Teeth: 2(I0/4; C0/0; P3/3; M3/3) = 32

Do goats need dental care?

The answer to this question is usually goats do not need dental care. Since goats are ruminants—they chew the cud, which is partially digested roughage returned from stomach for further chewing. Since goats are herbivorous animals therefore because of the type of their diets, they usually don’t suffer from gingivitis and periodontal diseases like dogs, cats, and humans. That’s one of the advantages of being a vegetarian.

Do goats need their teeth floated?

Floating is the process of filling the sharp edges of the teeth & the material used for scrapping is called floats. The purpose of floating is not to smooth the teeth; the tooth’s naturally uneven surface is needed to effectively drudge roughage. It is only done to file off sharp pointers to prevent the soft tissue of the cheeks and tongue from damage and provides ease in chewing. In addition, it is a little difficult to find a suitable person and tool for floating goats teeth because mostly tools available are for horses and it isn’t very common for goats to have it done.

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