What are Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis?
Some horses will experience hypercementosis or the excessive buildup of calcified tissue around the roots of the incisor teeth. As the tooth attempts to resorb, there will be a bulbous appearance in the gum line just above the teeth. As the disease progresses, the affected teeth may become fragile and fracture.
Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis or EOTRH can occur in horses of any age and generally affects the incisors and canine teeth. There have been a few documented cases where the cheek teeth have also been affected by EOTRH. As EOTRH progresses, the roots of the incisor will begin to resorb into the gum line. This causes the roots of the teeth to lose their structural integrity.
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Symptoms of Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in Horses
As a responsible horse owner, you should be doing daily – or at least weekly – physical examinations. This should include checking your horse’s mouth for any sores or changes to their teeth or gums. When you notice any changes, it is important that you have your veterinarian check out anything that might be suspicious. Symptoms of EOTRH will vary depending on the severity of the disease.
- Sensitivity to biting
- Head shaking
- Ptyalism or excessive production of saliva
- Resistance to turning during work
- Unwillingness to take a bit when being bridled
- Reduced ability to grasp treats such as carrots and apples
- Head shyness
- Periodic inappetence or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Decreased use of incisors for grazing
Causes of Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in Horses
The exact cause of EOTRH is unknown even though the disease has been documented for several years. Only recently has the condition been identified with a name and research is still being conducted.
Horses of any age can be affected by EOTRH. Older horses tend to be more likely to be diagnosed with EOTRH. There is no current research as to why this is the case.
Diagnosis of Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in Horses
It can be difficult for your veterinarian to diagnose Equine Odonto Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis by an oral examination alone when it is in its early stages. When in the early stages, the bulbous effect at the base of the affected teeth is not obvious and the teeth should still be strong, not brittle or loose.
Before looking inside your horse’s mouth, your veterinarian will want to watch how your horse picks up treats, feed and hay. How your horse chews their feed and treats will also give your veterinarian a clue as to what to look for.
Radiographs will be needed in all cases of EOTRH to make a definitive diagnosis. Some veterinarians will be able to make a differential diagnosis based on the symptoms. But they will need the radiographs to positively identify which teeth are affected by the disease.
Treatment of Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in Horses
When your veterinarian positively identifies Equine Odonto Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in your horse, they will begin treatments. Depending on the progression of the disease, treatments will be aimed toward pain management and trying to relieve your horse’s stress. As treatments continue, periodic radiographs will be needed to evaluate the advancement of the resorption.
Pain management medications may be prescribed to allow your horse to eat without much discomfort. Follow all dosing instructions as given and be sure to direct any questions regarding side effects and dosages to your veterinarian. Quality of life will be greatly improved if EOTRH is detected while still in the early stages.
Once the disease progresses to the advanced stages, extraction is the only treatment. Horses are able to manage very well without their incisor teeth and even their canine teeth. They should be able to eat a normal diet which will include grazing and even eating hay.
In severe cases where the disease has advanced to multiple teeth being affected, surgery is generally necessary. Surgery will allow for the complete removal of all affected dental material. Debridement of the diseased area will be necessary and then closure of the wounds left by brittle teeth that have had to be cut out of the jaw.
Post operative care will need to be given. This will include keeping your horse on a pelleted mash for at least the first 12 hours after surgery, then soft soaked hay and dry pellets can be introduced into their diet. Your veterinarian will direct you to rinse the surgical site with warm water. An antimicrobial rinse may also be required twice a day until the sutures come out.
Recovery of Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis in Horses
If EOTRH is caught early enough and treatments started, your horse’s quality of life should not suffer. If the disease is not caught until its later stages, then your horse will require more intense treatments and even surgery.
Early detection will be imperative to ensuring that your horse lives a healthy, pain free life. Always check your horse’s mouth for any changes that may indicate that EOTRH is starting.