Tag Archive | equine odontoclastic tooth resorptive and hypercementosis disease

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.