Advanced Equine Dentistry Table Topic

Equine dentistry is a rapidly expanding field that encompasses a number of procedures. These include occlusal equilibration (how the teeth contact the opposite tooth surfaces), endodontics (the treatment of diseases of the tooth pulp), exodontics (the extraction of teeth), oral surgery, orthodontics (the supervision and guidance of the growing dentition and the correction of the mature dentofacial structure), periodontics (the treatment of the diseases of the supporting and investing structures of the teeth), and restorative/operative dentistry. The Advanced Dentistry Table Topic, held at the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, occurring Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., was facilitated by Edward Earley, DVM, Fellow AVD Eq, of Laurel Highland Farm and Equine Services in Williamsport, Pa., Stephen Galloway, DVM, of Oakland, Tenn., and Charles McCauley, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ABVP, of Louisiana State University.

McCauley spoke briefly about the importance of diagnostic imaging when dealing with dental disease. Proper radiographic imaging utilizing extraoral and intraoral techniques is critical when trying to make a diagnosis using radiographs. The indications and benefits of computed tomography (CT) were discussed and demonstrated through the use of a case example.

Galloway spoke concisely about equine incisor periodontal syndrome. This is a painful disorder of canine and incisor teeth that variably causes periodontitis (inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth) with resorptive or proliferative changes of the calcified dental tissues in the aged horse. Currently the cause of this disorder is unknown. A recent publication by Carsten Staszyk, DrMedVet, et al. (The Veterinary Journal, December 2008, 178 (3), 372-379) evaluated this condition histologically in a small group of horses and have labeled this syndrome as "equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis."

Earley spoke briefly about infundibular cavities (horse incisors and maxillary cheek teeth have enamel infoldings called infundibula that penetrate the occlusal surface) and the profession's dilemma when attempting to treat these problems. Goals of restorative dentistry include: 1) preserving tooth integrity; 2) restoring function; 3) protecting the pulp; and 4) preventing extension of the lesion. Equine veterinarians need to critically evaluate their current standards of treatment to make sure these goals are met.

Additional topics the group discussed include:

  • The senseless destruction of healthy teeth through procedures such as canine reduction, incisor reduction, and bit seats (when the first upper and lower cheek teeth are slightly rounded);
  • The difference between indirect and direct pulp exposure; and
  • Treatment options for periodontal disease.

This table topic was facilitated by Earley, Galloway, and McCauley.

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