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Disease Profile: Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (Phew....)

Name: Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (EOTRH)

Species: Equine (although cats and humans get a similar disease)

Age: Usually senior horses, age 20 and older

Breed/Sex Predilection: None

What is it? Resorption (or "eating away") of the roots of the teeth by the body. Hypercementosis is when the body lies down new bone where it is not normally present, forming sometimes very large "balls" at the base of the roots. This disease is most common in the incisors, but also occurs in the canines and cheek teeth. It is considered to be variably painful, depending on its stage.

Cause: Unknown

Diagnosis: Based on clinical appearance, pain level, radiographic changes. Teeth may or may not be visibly loose based on severity of disease.

Treatment: Extraction of all affected teeth. This disease usually eventually progresses to all of the affected type of teeth (i.e., all of the incisors, all of the canines).

Prognosis: Excellent after affected teeth are extracted. Most horses with painful incisors have already learned to grab their feed without using the affected teeth and cope very well after full extraction. Horses with extracted cheek teeth may need to be placed on a special diet. If teeth are not extracted, this is a very painful disease and can lead to death via poor mastication of food and subsequent weight loss.

Prevention: None, but early detection and intervention can prevent years of pain.

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