Open Wide! Free Equine Dentistry Reference Collection Published Online

Equine Veterinary Journal shares web-based peer-reviewed article collection
Progress in equine dentistry requires veterinarians to regularly upgrade their knowledge of new treatments and diagnostic techniques. The Equine Veterinary Journal is facilitating that need with a collection of articles available as a free reference to all. This photo shows the teeth of a feral horse. (Pixabay photo)

To support the continuing advancements in equine dentistry, the Equine Veterinary Journal has released a research collection of dentistry articles. Co-edited by Professor Paddy Dixon, MVB PhD MRCVS Dip (EVDC (Equine) of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Vicki Nicholls, BSc(hons), BVet Med, MRCVS, BAEDT of Wright & Morten Veterinary Surgeons in Cheshire, England, the collection is free to all readers and coincides with the appointment of Nicholls as President of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

Proficiency in equine dentistry is becoming a standard requirement in practice and there has been significant progression in knowledge and techniques in recent years. Over the past 20 years there have been significant advances in objective scientific dental research, underpinning progress in clinical treatments and enabling dentistry to be performed to a higher standard by many vets. 

Several equine associations, including BEVA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners, actively promote clinical training with structured practical courses and lectures in equine dentistry. Concurrently, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has developed an advanced veterinary practitioner certificate in equine dentistry in the United Kingdom, and the European and American Veterinary Dental Colleges have launched diplomas in equine dentistry at specialist level.

The new online collection comprises ten studies on physiology, disease, diagnosis and treatment techniques in equine dentistry. It gives vets convenient and free access to some of the most important current research in the UK.

A study of the comparative analysis of tooth wear in free-ranging and captive wild equids indicates that captive animals experience less abrasion-dominated tooth wear and suggests that factors leading to focal overgrowth (‘hook’) formation, in particular feeding height, should receive special attention.

Ancillary diagnostic techniques, such as nasal endoscopy, sinoscopy and skull radiography, enables identification of the specific sinus compartments that are most commonly affected, concludes a long-term study of equine paranasal sinus disease.

The thermal effects on teeth of three different motorized dental instruments suggest that they have the potential to seriously damage equine pulp if used inappropriately. Higher speed motorized dental instruments should be used for less time and teeth should be water-cooled during or immediately after instrument use to reduce the risk.

Credit: Equine Veterinary Journal Radiograph of a horse’s head taken after extraction of a cheek tooth, marked by the black space at the middle of the image.

Local anesthesia is often needed for invasive procedures while the equine dental patient is under standing sedation. An intra-oral approach can be used effectively to desensitize the inferior alveolar nerve with minimal complications, suggests one of the studies.

Two studies explore the relevance of Computed Tomography (CT) for accurate diagnosis of apical (tooth root) infection in maxillary and mandibular cheek teeth. They conclude that CT is useful for identifying deposition and defects of mineralized material but of less use for identifying inflammation and tissue destruction, but overall is helpful in diagnosing apical infections.

The functional orthodontic correction of “overjet”, or overbite, in foals is advocated as effective in a study that used the technique with minimal complications. It was noted that often more than one implant is required and that the treatment should be started as early as possible.

A long-term study on the clinical effects of the mechanical widening of cheek teeth diastemata for the treatment of periodontitis concludes that it is an effective treatment for severely affected horses but it is potentially invasive and may require repeated treatments.

There are several causes of chronic unilateral nasal discharge and one of the studies explains why a recently described disease of the nasal conchal bullae could be a culprit. Clearance of empyema within these bullae is unlikely to occur through lavage of the paranasal sinuses alone. Where necessary, fenestration of the bulla allows physical removal of infected material. This study also clarifies the commonly used term ventral conchal bullae which is anatomically incorrect; the correct name is the maxillary septal bulla (MSB).

Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis is an infrequent and under-diagnosed form of severe dental disease of older equids. All teeth, and particularly the incisors, should be examined for signs of gingivitis and hypercementosis, suggests one of the studies. Subsequently they should be radiographed for early diagnosis and management.

Professor Celia Marr, BVMS, MVM, PhD, DEIM, DipECEIM, MRCVS, Editor of the Equine Veterinary Journal, said: “Care of the horse’s teeth is fundamental to good health. To this end a strong working knowledge of equine dentistry should be seen as an essential cornerstone for every equine practitioner. This diverse collection has the convenience of being easily accessible, online and in one place to help keep vets fully abreast of the excellent research currently being conducted in the UK.” 

Vicki Nicholls, incoming president of BEVA, continued: “Advances in equine dentistry continue to gather pace and it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Paddy Dixon collating the most current dental research that will be relevant to all equine practitioners with any level of expertise.”

The equine dentistry collection is available free online at this link:

Information for this article was provided by the Equine Veterinary Journal and British Equine Veterinary Association.




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