Another Year, Another Tooth

Biz, my soon-to-be twenty-six year old Quarter Horse, had his dental check up last week.  Biz has EOTRH, which is a degenerative disease that affects his teeth, causing them to become spongy and weakened over time.  We have been watching them for a few years now, because the disease has no cure other than to pull the teeth as they become painful.  As it affects the incisors, which are a horse’s tearing teeth and not their chewing teeth, a horse can function perfectly well even after the affected teeth are pulled.

Two years ago he had a tooth pulled, and last year he almost lost two more.  Upon the recommendation of my vet and the equine dental specialist he works with, we decided to let the teeth stay and instead we adopted a watch and wait approach.  So, last week he had a new set of X-rays to see how the disease has progressed.  Unfortunately, two of Biz’s teeth have further deteriorated to the point where they are almost certainly causing him pain.  Like cats, horses are prey animals and they try to hide their pain if they are ill, so even though he doesn’t appear to be in pain, we have to guess that he probably is.  The good news is that he is still eating well and holding weight on, and my vet shared X-rays and photos with other vets who specialize in equine dentistry and they were all impressed with his overall appearance for his age.

So the question becomes when to do the deed.  I’m waiting to hear back on a date that works – and that will likely be in the next month or so.  After the surgery, there will be daily flushes with saline while his gums heal.  Thankfully, Biz has always been a very good healer.  I wish there were a tooth fairy for horses!  I could be cashing in!  It would all go to the vet bills anyway.  Oh, the things we do for our animals…

For previous posts on Biz and his tooth troubles…

Biz’s Narrowly Averted Surgery Last Year


2 thoughts on “Another Year, Another Tooth

  1. Our quarter horse has same disease. He is 28 years old and has have a few teeth removed over the years. It seems to be getting worse. The vet removed a tooth last week cause it was loose. We noticed he is getting thin since his winter coat has shedded and also his coat is dull. He still has a good appetite and experienced frequent diarrhea since October, the vet assummed it was due to the hay season cause her horse has it to. The diarrhea cleared up soon after the tooth came out- was it due to the tooth or did the antibiotic take care of it – we don’t know.
    The doctor recommended for removal of incisors is 4 hours round trip. Due to the long trip, age, and not knowing if this is the reason for weight loss, we don’t know if we should have the surgury. Not to mention the cost. Any idea what that will be?

  2. Hi Maureen,
    If I remember correctly from a couple of years ago, it was about $600 for the removal of one tooth – and there were two vets that worked on him. I can’t imagine having more done at the same time would cost much more than the first one, since at that point you have paid the cost of anesthesia, tech time, prep work, etc. They should be able to give you an estimate (our vet did). Fortunately we live only about 20 minutes from the vet clinic, so that is much easier on Biz. He hasn’t had any diarrhea, but like your guy has had a good appetite. Biz’s coat is pretty good for an old horse, and he hasn’t had more than the usual issues with weight maintenance (he is a very slightly built Quarter Horse, and has always had some issues with keeping weight on, even as a young horse – I’ve had him since he was two).

    It would make good sense that EOTRH would be the reason for the weight loss – my vet is pretty surprised that Biz hasn’t lost weight yet, since several of the teeth are pretty loose, and we assume they are causing pain. I’m sure you are considering his overall health and quality of life as part of the decision. Good luck with your boy – it is a tough decision. Biz’s surgery is scheduled for May 21st.

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