Tag Archive | equine dental disease

How to Pull a Canine…

Biz’s canine tooth extraction surgery is coming up.  We postponed it a couple weeks ago after finding out the issue was not with his incisors, in order to give the vet some time to consult with specialists.  Said consulting has been done.  Monday morning, we are traveling back to the clinic to give it a go.  They will start with his lower right canine.  And ugh, it sounds awful…

When the vet called Friday to explain what he had found out about the procedure and how to best do it, “bone grinding tool, levering against jawbone, and risk if ligament has calcified” were phrases used…  Yuck.  I asked all my questions and he offered the option of having the extractions done by the dental specialist, but that involves either waiting longer until she will be in the area, or traveling two hours south.  Trailering Biz two hours south into the big city and its horrendous traffic doesn’t sound like a good time for a 30 year old man…  So we are going to give it a go at home.

Basically, they will cut off the crown of the tooth (the part above the gumline), then grind away a portion of the jawbone to expose the root to make it easier to access and extract.  This, although it sounds terrible, is the better way to go because it reduces the pressure on the jawbone that occurs when they have to lever against it trying to loosen the tooth.  Hopefully, the ligament that is holding the tooth below is still relatively healthy, and has not calcified, because that bony calcification makes it harder to remove the root.

If, and this is a big if, he is tolerant and the extraction of the right lower canine goes well, then they will try to also pull the left lower canine.  If it’s too difficult, or takes too long, and they are concerned about his reaction or how long he is sedated, then it will be left for another day.

I’m cringing as I write this.  It sounds painful.  Biz on his best day doesn’t like people messing with his face and mouth.  A power tool grinding his jaw bone is going to be interesting. Not sure there are enough drugs in the world for him to tolerate that easily.  But leaving him in pain isn’t an option.  So all I can do is pray that it all goes well, and be there in whatever clothes I don’t care about getting blood on, pulling his ear to distract him, talking to him, and holding him up when he’s sedated.  It’s just what we do.

Getting down on his level – waking up from the sedative a few weeks ago…

 

I am going to need more than one glass of wine when I get home Monday.  For sure.

 

The Surgery that Wasn’t… Yet…

All has been pretty quiet in Biz news lately… He’s been doing well, using his three remaining front teeth and his mostly-worn-down molars to eat a complete diet of equine senior pelleted food.  Sometimes he gets beet pulp, if he likes it that day…  His weight has been good, and his skin has been good, and he’s overall just been hanging out – good.  I like that.

About 10 days ago I noticed he didn’t want me to look in his mouth at his incisors, which I do whenever I am out to see how they are doing.  At some point they are going to have to go.  Last Friday night he REALLY didn’t want me to look in his mouth…  NOT. FOR. ONE. SINGLE. SECOND…  He’s hurting…

Saturday morning I was on the phone with the vet’s office to discuss proceeding.  Antibiotics, painkillers and a vet appointment at the clinic this morning to x-ray and remove those last three teeth.  I was sure of it…

Well Biz had another thing in mind.  Because he can never do anything the easy way…  The incisors are fine.  Still stable.  Instead, it is the canine teeth; the two lower canines in particular.  And don’t get me started on why horses have teeth called canines?

Canines are harder to extract, because the roots are more deeply embedded in the jawbone.  It means a harder surgery, longer healing time, and more potential for complications, especially when both sides of the mouth are affected.  So his x-rays and photos were emailed off to an equine dentistry specialist, and my vet will consult on the best option.  Pull the whole tooth, or cut the tooth off at the gum line and let the gum heal over the root of the tooth.  Biz, it seems, already decided that the second option is the preferred method, because one of his upper canines has already broken off at the gum line, and the gum has healed completely over without us even noticing…  The body is a fascinating thing…

 

Getting down on his level – waking up from the sedative…

In a couple weeks, we will make the return trip up to the clinic for round 2.  Wish an old man luck!  Sometimes it’s hard being 30…

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

EOTRH

Biz is in for More Surgery…

Tomorrow afternoon I’m taking Biz up to the vet clinic for another round of tooth extractions. We know he’s definitely losing one, but they may decide to pull a second as well, because the one that has to go is one in from the edge, and when it goes, there will no longer be any stability for the outermost incisor. So, that means I’ll be doing double duty again – flushing his mouth with saline solution as the wounds in his mouth heal.

For those of you who haven’t heard these stories before, Biz has EOTRH – which is the long acronym for a disease with an incredibly long name – Equine Odonoclastic Tooth Resorptive and Hypercementosis disease. In short, Biz’s teeth are getting spongy on the inside. And as they get spongy, his body creates balls of “cement” around the root of the tooth to try to prevent the tooth from just deteriorating and breaking off. This latest tooth is close to breaking and is very loose in his jaw, so it’s gotta go. Better to have a planned extraction than an emergency trip because it broke. So tomorrow, Biz will take the trip up to the vet clinic, get sedated, have a nerve block, and have that long, spongy, breaking tooth tap-tap-tapped out of his jaw. Likely in several pieces. And with much cringing by his human mother throughout the procedure. Because unlike last time, I know what to expect – and it’s worthy of some cringing.

Actually, I’m pretty lucky that my horse’s vet is one of those gentle kinds of vets who has a true fascination and passion for the work that he does. He genuinely wants to teach others what is going on with the disease processes of their animals. And because he knows I’ve been to hell and back with Biz (see my other posts about Biz if you have an interest in those other traumas), he doesn’t worry at all about me breaking down in the operating room. So I get to watch! Although there is an element of squeamishness, I get to stay throughout the procedure, talk to Biz, and see firsthand how big a horse’s tooth is, all the way to the end of the root. And just how firmly rooted it is in that jaw, even if it is falling apart.

So, even though I try not to worry, I will anyway.  I’ll feel a lot better tomorrow afternoon when Biz is done with his surgery and he’s home… Why can’t we stop time and stay young?  I guess that’s a post for another time.

When Life Gets in the Way

It’s raining again. I’ve heard that since the beginning of the year, it has only been above 55 degrees 3 times. And it is raining a lot – way more than is normal for the very end of April. The forecast was for snow this morning down to 500 feet this morning, but fortunately, there wasn’t much and it didn’t hit as low as town. I’m so tired of the rain. I’m seriously concerned that one of my coworkers might find me in my office one of these days just staring at the wall and rocking back and forth in my chair. “It’s the rain, they’ll say, and the salary surveys….”

And in the meantime, life goes on. We got home last night to discover that the stove exhaust vent is dripping water. After calling the handyman and climbing up on the ladder to stare at the roof and confirm that the cover to the vent hadn’t just blown off in one of the many rain/windstorms we’ve had lately, it became evident that this would require the absolute dreaded “housecall”. So, we’ll soon be finding out if this is something major, or minor. I’m hoping that it is solidly in the minor category, considering that I just had the roof replaced 5 years ago – when they tore off the entire roof and replaced it. Hopefully we can replace a bit of flashing, and we’re on our way. But, one never knows.

In other expensive news, my sweet 24 year old horse is having dental surgery next week. Now, I know what you are thinking, “horses don’t get wisdom teeth, do they?” And no, they don’t. But Biz never comes down with any sort of normal disease or ailment, so instead, keeping with tradition, he has developed a sort of osteoporosis of the teeth. It is officially called EOTRH, which is short for Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis Disease. Don’t worry, I had never heard of this before either. It basically means that his teeth are breaking down at the root level, getting spongy inside, and to combat that problem, his body is also building up extra cartilage on the roots, creating a spongy tooth root with painful growths of cartilage. It makes sense when you look at the x-ray, trust me. Now, you are probably asking, “What sort of insane person would just up and decide to get x-rays on her horse’s teeth?” Yeah, well…. It all started when Biz somehow sheared off a piece of one of his canine teeth. So, he has this little pink exposed area on the tooth that frankly looks quite painful. So we had the vet out in the fall to look at that. He originally thought it was something called a pulp granuloma (I hadn’t heard of that one either), and he wanted to x-ray it to figure out if there was any sort of infection in the root of the tooth, or inflammation below the gumline that would indicate any infection. Oddly enough, when the x-rays were viewed and reviewed and tooth extraction was decided upon, it ended up that the canine tooth isn’t the big problem. So, the canine was the instigator, so to speak, causing all sorts of problems for all his spongy incisors who were just trying to mind their own business.

But quite simply, the trip to the vet clinic to have his first tooth extracted will be extremely nerve-wracking (for both of us, I’m sure), and will cost me an arm (not a leg though… YET…). I have owned Biz for 21 years, and I worry about him. And, this will be the first of many tooth extractions, because they have no cure for this disease, and the sponginess just keeps marching along in the other teeth when you pull one tooth. The vets don’t really know how quickly this can happen, because it varies in each horse, but when you compare the x-rays they did 6 months ago to the ones that were done last month, you can easily see that the disease is progressing.

And so, just like that, the travel fund gets diverted, yet again…. SIGH….

P.S.  Since I wrote this post, it stopped raining, and the leak in the stove exhaust vent turned out to be a weird fluke caused by the direction of the wind, and the velocity of the rain, the exact lining up of the moon with the rings of saturn, and maybe a witch’s curse thrown in for good measure.  In other words, the contractor thinks I’m a nut, but at least I’m not out a couple hundred bucks.