So Biz and I headed back up to the clinic on Monday to see about having two of his canine teeth removed, as they seemed to be causing him a lot of pain. After further consulting, we decided to try continuing the daily painkiller for awhile and then extract later if it is still needed.
If you are newer to this blog, you may not know that Biz has EOTRH, more officially known as equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis disease. In very simplistic terms, it is kind of like osteoporosis of the teeth. The tooth root begins to break down and get spongy (the tooth resorption), and then the body tries to strengthen the weakening root by creating a ball of “cement” (the hypercementosis) around the damaged root. The ball of cement presses on the gums, causing pain. Not to mention the teeth become loose, and can eventually just break off either at or below the gumline. More pain. Interestingly, people and cats get their own version of this disease. Something to look forward to!
Although it isn’t a new disease, it has become much more recently studied in horses, because, in the past horses didn’t live long enough for it to matter. They died of something far more usual (colic, laminitis, etc.) long before some vet ever started poking around much in their mouths… Horses are living longer, more leisurely lives, just like people, and now the diseases of old horses are becoming more common.
Biz is 30; considered an old horse. Domestic horses, like people, have a wide variation in longevity, and most statistics point to an average lifespan of 25-30 years. He has had 9 of his 12 incisors pulled already, and his canine teeth are now affected. One canine had already broken off at the gumline sometime in the last year and healed over on its own. That left three canines… Two of these canines were the ones that we were eyeing for potential extraction today.
After we decided to go with the more conservative daily painkiller approach, the vets then went to do a routine float on his molars and cheek teeth, and get rid of a sharp edge on the one canine that seemed to not be a problem. “Floating” a horse’s teeth is the process of filing down the sharp edges to keep them from pinching or poking the horse’s cheeks and gums. The process of chewing hay and grass just naturally creates these sharp edges over time, as the teeth wear unevenly. This too, can cause pain. Most of the time anymore, floating is done with a power tool in the horse’s mouth. Biz LOVES this, I can assure you! (that was pure sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious…)
Well, filing down that sharp edge on that one canine tooth (the one that had seemed to be the most stable), caused it to break off from the vibration of the floating tool. It was immediately apparent that it was just suddenly very loose, and ended up having to be removed. A quick pull with a pliers and the entire crown of the tooth came out. The root was left in, in the hopes that the gum will just heal over it. This same thing actually happened with his other upper canine, and Biz is a great healer, so fingers crossed.
We are hoping that perhaps that upper canine, or the sharp edges on his molars and cheek teeth, might have been causing at least some of the pain that has made him so reactive lately. And that solving those problems will make the daily painkiller work well for him, or even be unnecessary. Sadly, Biz never did learn his words, and doesn’t even have fingers to point to a particular spot and say, “that’s where it hurts.” He’s a prey animal, and prey animals instinctually hide pain… And even worse, he HATES having his mouth messed with on his best day, so he’s always more inclined to act like it hurts EVERYWHERE! Hopefully, we will know more over the next couple weeks, as he heals from today.
So, in true Biz fashion, he lost the canine they didn’t plan to extract today, and kept the other two. He can’t ever just do the expected… Touche’ Biz… You never can seem to stick to a plan…