Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (thats a mouth full!)
Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercemotosis (also referred to as EOTRH) is a newly recognized condition affecting the incisors and canines of older horses. With EOTRH, there is an imbalance in the breakdown and formation of new tooth. It affects the incisor teeth only and causes them to become brittle, painful, inflamed, infected, and loose. This is a painful disease in horses. Symptoms include an inability to bite apples or carrots, drooling, head shaking, inappetance, and/or weight loss. Each horse is different in how they adapt to the pain. Many older horses are stoic and they hide their discomfort while others let you know exactly where they are hurting.
In the early stages of EOTRH, symptoms may be subtle. X-rays help us determine what is happening at the level of the tooth root. We are able to visualize the bone breakdown that is occurring below the level of the gum. As the disease progresses, a thorough oral exam will often lead to a diagnosis.
Treatment for EOTRH begins once there is significant bone loss on x-rays AND/OR evidence of pain. In the early stages, horses are monitored with annual x-rays to track progression of the disease. Once, the disease becomes severe, extraction of the affected teeth is recommended. Sometimes this is performed on the farm but often it involves referral to an equine hospital. Horses undergoing extraction are placed on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories after the procedure. Removal of these teeth improves the appetite and attitude of many horses. Most importantly, relieving them of pain improves quality of life.