This morning, Biz and I made the trip up to his vet clinic for his latest surgery. Biz has EOTRH, a degenerative disease of the teeth that causes them to break down. His incisors have been getting worse with the progression of his disease, and over the last four years, he has had three of his lower incisors pulled.
With his last set of X-rays, it was clear that his upper incisors had deteriorated significantly over the last year. We made plans to extract four of his six upper incisors, leaving only his two center top teeth. I have to admit, I was a bit anxious, as pulling four teeth at the same time is much different than just pulling one. Plus, the upper incisors are more complicated than the lower ones, because the nerve block is much more dangerous. The nerve that affects the upper jaw is very close to the optical nerve, so if the nerve block is administered incorrectly the horse could be blinded.
Today’s surgery went well. Once again, the nerve blocking was the hardest part, as Biz on his best day doesn’t love having his face messed around with. Getting the nerves blocked on each side involved heavy sedation, one vet holding the needle, two other vets holding his head and me and the vet tech pushing on him to keep him standing straight in the stanchion – plus a blindfold, and a numbing agent under the skin at the location of the nerve block. Oy!
Once the nerve block was done and had taken effect, the work of removing his teeth began. The first one ended up being the hardest – he was not happy and kept tossing his head around (you find out how sedated they really are when you start the hard work!). The first tooth also had the largest ball of cementum – which is where the tooth has tried to repair itself by creating a ball of extra growth to try to shore up the deteriorating root of the tooth. However, the ball of cementum presses against the gums and the nerves in the mouth and is painful.
The rest of the teeth came out relatively easily – three of the four simply broke off when they applied the forceps, so the vets had to do a bit of digging around in the hole to get the remaining pieces of the root. Once they thought they got it all, they did a new round of X-rays to make sure, and then packed the holes with Plaster of Paris and antibiotic tablets. The sutures will hold for a few days, and eventually the plaster plugs will fall out.
I’ll be doing aftercare for several weeks, flushing his holes with saline solution daily. I’m grateful that he is a remarkable healer.
Biz is now officially missing more incisors than he has left. This evening he enjoyed a small meal of super soggy beet pulp and hay, and was pissed that he didn’t get more. And I’m enjoying a relaxing craft beer. It’s the little things…