How Newborn Foals’ Dental Pulp Can Help Heal Horses

Dental pulp injections helped reduce pain and improve lameness in horses with soft tissue injuries and arthritis.
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How Newborn Foals
Researchers have learned that neonatal foals’ dental pulp can be used to help reduce pain and improve lameness in horses with soft tissue injuries and degenerative arthritis. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse
There’s some good news for horses with tendon or ligament ailments or osteoarthritis, and it’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth … literally. Researchers have learned that neonatal foals’ dental pulp can be used to help reduce pain and improve lameness in horses with soft tissue injuries and degenerative arthritis.

“The dental pulp is a ball of tissue that is below the gum line in newborn foals,” said Alicia Bertone, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, director of the Comparative Orthopedics Research Laboratories at The Ohio State University Veterinary Clinical Sciences. “It is the most primitive form of stem cell tissue and has the greatest potential for developing into bone, ligaments, blood vessels, and more.”

Bertone and colleagues recently tested the effectiveness of dental pulp treatment in 20 lame horses with tendon and ligament injuries or arthritis; the team injected dental pulp tissue (collected from otherwise healthy foals that died due to dystocia, or a difficult birth) directly into an arthritis-affected joint or injured soft-tissue structure. Another 20 horses served as controls and received a saline solution instead of dental pulp treatment.

“Horses with tendon and ligament injuries responded surprisingly well,” Bertone said. “Several of these horses came back to being sound. Patients with degenerative arthritis improved, just not as great a degree

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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