Getting to Know EOTRH

This painful dental disease is often seen in older horses and can have severe consequences. Here’s what to watch for.
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Getting To Know EOTRH
One sign of EOTRH is this “smiling” behavior, where the horse pulls his lips back during rest and/or work. | Photo: iStock

Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis is a very painful dental disease veterinarians have begun to diagnose in older horses.

Dental care is essential to our horses’ well-being—healthy teeth ensure horses can grasp and chew food properly and tolerate a bit when ridden. The most common sources of dental pain are the molars (cheek teeth) that wear into sharp points, long hooks, and ramps as they grow. But veterinarians are now learning that the front teeth—the incisors and canines—are also prone to pain. A relatively newly named dental disease is responsible, sometimes causing severe consequences.

What Is It?

“Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis (EOTRH) is a dental disease that has just recently been described in veterinary literature,” says David Foster, VMD, Dipl. ACVD EQ, of Equine Dental Services of New Jersey, in Morganville. “This does not mean that it must be a new disease. We know that there are similar poorly understood dental conditions reported in humans (multiple idiopathic root resorption) and in cats (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions). The disease process that we call EOTRH has probably been with horses throughout history.”

He theorizes that veterinarians are recognizing the disease now because horses are living much longer than in the past and veterinarians are scrutinizing their mouths more closely

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Written by:

Joan Norton, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, founded Norton Veterinary Consulting and Education Resources to promote equine veterinary education to horse owners, professionals, and veterinarians. She is the author of Equine First Aid Handbook.

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