Overdue dental care

(Foto: De Lingehoeve)

The 19-year-old gelding Zorro was referred to De Lingehoeve in Lienden because of dental problems. Veterinarian Anne Hiensch-Zeijlmaker examined his teeth: ‘I noticed he had a loose incisor, that lots of food residues had gathered around the other incisors and that a pungent smell was emanating from his teeth. I suspected EOTRH, Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, a collective name for various root disorders of the incisors.’

Painful condition

‘This condition is particularly unpleasant because it is so painful, and pain is something horses are reluctant to show. The diagnosis EOTRH could only be established with certainty by X-ray examination. On the X-rays of Zorro´s upper and lower incisors there was no sign of resorption or hypercementosis of the roots, so apparently the problem was not EOTRH. However, the socket was very shallow and wide. Zorro also had a slanting stance of his incisors, which we call a diagonal. That means, seen from the front the cutting edge of the incisors is sloping to one side, below left they are very short, below right very long. Annual dental treatment which includes correction of the incisors is necessary to prevent this disorder.’

Annual dental treatment

‘When the teeth are in disbalance this creates room between the teeth where food can get stuck. This causes inflammation of the gums. Infected gums start to recede so that teeth become even more mobile, worsening so much that every sideways movement of the jaw causes pain in the incisors. The end result was clearly visible in Zorro´s mouth. Four of Zorro´s incisors were so mobile that I had no other option but to extract them. I shortened the others as much as possible and equalised them so that pressure was evenly distributed across all incisors and they could move smoothly across each other during munching. If Zorro´s teeth had been checked and equalised every year this could have been prevented.’
Read the full article by Anne Hiensch-Zeijlmaker, MA in the Phryso issue of November.