Today on Texas Vet News I am going to talk about a fairly new dental disease being diagnosed in horses called equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis. I know that name is a mouthful, but the name is not important while the condition is. It involves the incisors and canine teeth. The incisors are the horse's front teeth and the canines are the teeth just behind the last incisors. The condition usually occurs in horses over 15 years of age and you will notice the syndrome by examining the roots of your horse's incisors and canine teeth. Initially you will notice increased yellow to brown tartar buildup at the junction of the teeth and gums on your horse's front teeth.
As odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis progresses, pain increases and some horses will have a decreased appetite due to the pain. The roots of the teeth start to dissolve and many horses will develop large swellings over the roots of these teeth. Eventually, the teeth will become infected and may even fracture because the roots are so weak. Many of these older horses may not show any clinical signs and continue eating even though they are in pain. So it is important to examine your horse's mouth and hopefully your veterinarian is doing a dental exam twice yearly when your horse is vaccinated. To diagnose the condition, x-rays of the teeth are required. Many treatments have been tried including antibiotics, oral mouth flushes, and anti-inflammatories and all of these have been ineffective in most cases. Although extracting the teeth may seem like an aggressive treatment, it is really the only effective treatment for the condition. After extraction, these horses have less pain and are healthier.
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