New research from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center suggests that older geldings are at greater risk of developing the rare dental disease equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis (EOTRH).
EOTRH is a progressive dental condition in which the cementum that covers the surface of the teeth dissolves (resorption) or becomes overgrown (hypercementosis). The disease, which affects predominantly incisors and sometimes the canine teeth, can also destroy bone around the tooth sockets. Early signs include redness and swelling of the gums (gingivitis) with eventual development of ulceration and infection. Affected horses may become head shy and reluctant to eat because of dental/oral pain. Removal of the affected teeth is the generally recommended treatment.
For the study, researchers reviewed the records of horses admitted to the hospital for dental problems over a 12-year period. They found 18 cases of EOTRH. All but one of the affected horses were geldings between the ages of 17 and 29, with a median age of 24. Lower incisors (mandibular) were typically affected before upper incisors (maxillary), but eventually the disease progressed to all incisors and in some cases the canine teeth. Some horses showed radiographic abnormalities of EOTRH with no clinical signs.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend regular oral examinations for signs of gum inflammation and, if a problem is suspected, radiographs to detect EOTRH early and begin treatment.
Reference: “Clinical treatment and prognosis of equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis,” Equine Veterinary Journal, December 2014
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #450, March 2015.