long in the tooth

 May 12, 2022


What is the meaning of .. long in the tooth  


It means old.  Used to describe an animal.  The expression derives from the tendency of an animal's gums to contract as it ages.  The teeth aren't actually longer, it's just that more of them is showing.  


 May 12, 2022

This is an idiom when used to describe humans. Human teeth do not continue to grow after formation and eruption.


This is literal (not an idiom) when used to describe an animal’s age –specifically horses. Estimating a horse’s age by examining its teeth is a centuries-old practice that is still commonly used today. Note that along with the length of the teeth, wear patterns and irregular “floats” are considered too.  


While horses’ gums do recede as they age, their teeth also grow an average of about 75 mm (3 inches) per year during their lifespan. Horse’s teeth naturally wear as they eat hay, and especially as they forage for grass, which is chewed with sand. Some horses will intentionally chew on small mouthfuls of sand to accelerate the wear. This behavior is commonly seen among horses that are heavily grain-fed, as they forage less.  (I heard that from the horse’s mouth.)


Modern horses that are properly cared for will have their teeth refloated once or twice a year by a veterinarian or keeper who is trained and skilled in the process.  Even with this process it is still possible to estimate the age of a horse by teeth wear patterns and gum recession.  


During the annual or semiannual oral care exams, excessively long teeth are shaved and ground to optimum levels along with the refloating procedures, and dental carry restoration. Yes, horses get cavities. Unlike humans, equine cavities will grow out. This is a great natural advantage considering that (some) horses have only had human dentists caring for their oral health for a century or so... (One less thing to be down in the mouth about.)




Hi Ron,

I’m sure you are long in the tooth, assuming you still have at least one of them. LOL

How’s Gracie?


 It's foolish to bet on a horse without talking to him first. I know it seems silly to ask a horse who's going to win a race - but it's no sillier than asking anyone else. –Gracie Allen



--. .-

GingerAle  May 13, 2022

Thanks for the equine dental lessen Ginger :)

Melody  May 13, 2022


Hi Ginger.  What a delight to hear from you again.  And educational too – well, that's what happens on this site – I didn't know that horses' teeth continue growing throughout their lifetimes.  I did know that sharks' teeth replenish themselves ... when one breaks off, a replacement rolls up from underneath, kind of like a box of Kleenex.  I don't describe myself as long in the tooth; I prefer old and in the way.  Ron  


Guest May 14, 2022

Hi Ron,


Old and in the way, that's what I heard them say
They used to heed the words he said, but that was yesterday
Gold will turn to gray and youth will fade away
They'll never care about you, call you old and in the way

Once I hear tell, he was happy
He had his share of friends and good times
Now, those friends have all passed on
He don't have a place called home
Looking back to a better day, feeling old and in the way

When just a boy, he left his home
Thought he'd have the world on a string
Now the years have come and gone
Through the streets he walks alone
Like the old dog gone astray, he's just old and in the way





Are you a fan of Bluegrass music, and/or Jerry Garcia?

The Jerry Garcia song, along with being (gratefully) dead, seems to describe the final path for many. I think for most it’s a self-perception: Looking back to a better day, feeling old and in the way, rather than someone saying explicitly, with a cold heart, They'll never care about you, call you old and in the way.  It is my nature to say something like that, but, more likely than not, it would be in humorous jest.


A few years ago, after singing “Happy Birthday” to my mum for her 80th birthday, I gave an encore, singing, “The Old Grey Mare ...she ain't what she used to be, ...many long years ago.”  My father found this quite funny; my mum chased me around house with a broom. My father also thought that was funny.


I was born very late into my family. I was a surprise package to my 51-year-old mother, and 57-year-old father. The eldest two of my siblings –my brothers had families of their own, and my sister graduated from high school. To me everyone was old, though I was not really aware of how old until I was 9, and attended my seventh funeral wake.    


When I think of you, Ron, “Living History,” rather than “old” is the first thing that comes to mind. (Old is the second thing, of course.) Very few of my contemporaries –and even those who are 20-years my senior, would not likely have an instant knowledge of Gracie Allen, the shoe-pounding Nikita Khrushchev, Bosco [the chocolate] Bear; And only a few have knowledge of  Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. 


I have a Bosko Bear and a 12oz jar of Bosco Milk Amplifier chocolate syrup circa 1957.  These were some of the birthday presents for Ginger Maire, daughter of my great Uncle Cosmo and Aunt Peggy. Ginger Maire died five days before her eighth birthday, from complications related to leukemia.    Adding to this grief, a few months later, Alexandra Rochelle died at age nine, along with her mother, in a fiery automobile crash. Alexandra was the daughter of my great Uncle Sean, Cosmo’s brother.


Thirty-one years later, I became Ginger Alexandra, the namesake of Ginger Maire and Alexandra Rochelle. My mum and pop are now the only two family members who have a living memory of Ginger and Alexandra. I’ve often speculated what their live would have been like. The era they would have grown up in is so very different than mine.  As such, I’m always interested in the history and anecdotes of anyone who might have been a contemporary of Ginger and Alexandra. Add to that, that my young life was full of anachronisms...


JB (Jacob Bernoulli) is probably the oldest member on this forum. (A few years ago, I commented to JB that he is long in the tooth. He replied that he is long in the schlong, too.  ...I suppose this is helpful in schlong distance relationships.)


He’ll be 80-years-old later this year. He’s about seven years older than Ginger Maire. So, he would be like an older brother to Ginger and Alexandra. JB has shared several anecdotes of his high school life. Two of his anecdotes are on this forum:




Another of his anecdotes, from grade 10, illustrates social regression, when his high school became a testing ground for introducing high-functioning retarded students into mainstream high school curriculum. The students attended special classes and some standard academic classes, if the students could potentially learn.  


This didn’t go well. Within six weeks of the start of the school year, dozens of mainstream students (of both sexes) were mocking the quirky behaviors of the retarded students, and they would often continue imitating this behavior even when there were no retarded students around to mock. The retarded students started retaliating by throwing feces at their antagonists.  They would literally shit into their hand and throw it at their mocking antagonists.


Rather than stopping the mockery, the mainstream students imitated this behavior too.   Despite (sporadic) disciplinary intervention by the school’s administration this culminated into a food and shit fight in the school cafeteria, a few weeks later. Some of the students had saved their feces for this purpose. When the shit started to fly, all but the most aggressive students ran for the exits, but enough remained to turn the cafeteria into a literal sewer. 


 I LMAO for ten minutes after reading JB’s anecdote. This would be like going to school with monkeys and (genetically UNenhanced) apes.  There were more than a few of them who attended my schools, but I don’t recall anyone literally throwing poo.  It seems this progressive idea caused regression.


JB is from Minnesota, where poo throwing (and ass-freezing) perspectives are the norm.


Ron, do you have any anecdotes you’d like to share? 

If so, we would have a southern perspective; from Texas, I presume (based on your writing style and syntax). 



 School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule days...


GA !

--. .-

GingerAle  May 21, 2022
edited by GingerAle  May 21, 2022

5 Online Users