EOTRH: An Important Dental Condition in Aged Horses

Scientists reviewed research on this painful disease that affects a horse’s teeth, gums, and bone.
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EORTH an Important Dental Condition in Aged Horses
As the disease progresses, it is characterized by gingivitis, gingival edema and recession, associated periodontal disease, fistula formation, tooth mobility and displacement, tooth fracture and/or tooth loss. | Photo Credit: Courtesy Dr. Shannon Lee

Many horse owners rarely consider the health of their horses’ teeth outside annual or semiannual dental flotations. Because horses have continually erupting teeth, we might think horses shouldn’t be prone to permanent damage. Horses, however, can have many problems associated with their teeth, including a relatively newly recognized condition called EOTRH—equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis.

As described in a recent study published by veterinarians from the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in Finland, EOTRH occurs in older horses—those at least 15 years of age. The condition develops when one or more teeth are resorbed and the body produces excess cementum—the hard, outer layer of the tooth—that replaces the bulk of the normal, healthy tooth. This condition typically starts at the outer incisors—the 12 small grasping teeth located at the front of the horse’s mouth. EOTRH then progressively moves toward the middle incisors, ultimately affecting all 12 incisors in some cases. The canines and cheek teeth can also be affected.

EOTRH can cause a great deal of discomfort. Affected horses have difficulties grasping and biting with their front teeth, impaired swallowing, decreased appetites, weight loss, and behavior changes (e.g., irritability)

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Written by:

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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