Endoscopy-Assisted Dentistry Improves Traditional 'Shot In The Dark'

After investigating the technique in more than 300 horses, Austrian researchers have concluded that endoscopic evaluation of the oral cavity as part of a routine dental examination is a safe and effective means of thoroughly assessing horses' dentition. This is particularly true for subtle lesions of the cheek teeth that would otherwise be missed during routine clinical oral examinations.

Due to the anatomy of the horses' oral cavity and associated structures, it is not possible to open the mouth wide enough to directly visualize all surfaces of the teeth, even with the assistance of mouth gags, lights, and buccal (cheek) retractors.

In the study, "The use of oral endoscopy for detection of cheek teeth abnormalities in 300 horses," Hubert Simhofer from the Clinical for Large Animal Surgery and Orthopaedics at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Wien, Austria, and colleagues, used a 40cm long, 90° angle rigid endoscope with a stainless steel protective tube to achieve a "very thorough visual examination of the equine oral cavity" in standing, sedated horses.

The most commonly observed cheek teeth abnormalities were:

  • Sharp enamel edges (in 96.3% of examined horses),
  • Focal overgrowths of part of the tooth (64.3%),
  • Fine, visible cracks/fissure fractures (54.3%),
  • Diastermata/enlarged interdental spaces (24.3%), and
  • Infundibular hypoplasia/caries/cavities (48.3%).

Due to these findings, the authors contend that oral endoscopy is a safe, non-invasive diagnostic technique that is superior to routine clinical examination of the oral cavity for detecting subtle lesions of the cheek teeth.

This study was published in the December 2008 edition of the Veterinary Journal.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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