Equine Case Study: Too Many Teeth

Equine Case Study: Too Many Teeth

Deciduous Teeth: Case Study with Blossom

As veterinary surgeons, we are sometimes presented with horses’ mouths that have extra teeth or teeth in abnormal positions. It can be a clinical challenge to work out which is the normal tooth and which is not. As with people, horses have deciduous (baby) teeth that get pushed out by the permanent (adult) teeth from below. Sometimes the permanent tooth does not ease out the deciduous one giving the appearance of an extra tooth in the mouth. If left this will cause ‘bite’ abnormalities in the future. On a routine visit to vaccinate Blossom it was noted that there was an additional tooth in her upper right incisor arcade. An adult corner incisor was erupting through the gum and was pushing up against an extra tooth. She was 5 years old and you would therefore expect her corner incisor to be erupting normally at this stage.

Extra Corner Tooth

Deciduous teeth are usually smaller and have a whiter colour than permanent teeth. The Central and middle incisors on the right side were obviously adult teeth as was the erupting tooth. By deduction this meant the tooth below the erupting corner incisor was a deciduous tooth. I therefore sedated Blossom, performed a nerve block with local anaesthetic and started to elevate the tooth with the aim of extracting it.

Very quickly it became apparent that this tooth was longer and more firmly attached than any deciduous tooth that I had removed before. Further attempts at extraction were stopped and Blossom was booked into the equine clinic for diagnostic radiographs. The x-rays revealed a supernumerary (extra) adult tooth that was growing in a horizontal angle below the rest of the incisor teeth. This was very unusual. The ideal treatment would have been to remove the horizontal extra tooth. However, this would be a massive surgical procedure and would, more than likely, cause significant damage to the root systems of the healthy teeth. As Blossom was in no pain and there was no pathology associated with the tooth, it was decided the best thing to do was to monitor it with regular dental checks and perform remedial dental work as necessary. The tooth can always be taken out at a later date.

Long Root
Supernumerary Wolf Teeth: Case Study with Bob
Another recent case involving supernumerary teeth was Bob, a 5 year old gelding, who was having bitting trouble. Wolf teeth had been removed previously but a small fragment had been left behind causing discomfort. On closer inspection not only was there a fragment in the normal wolf tooth position but there were two extra teeth between the molars and the canines, one on the left and one on the right. These teeth were positioned exactly where the bit would sit and were definitely causing problems.

X-ray – two canines (red arrows) with large roots and two supernumerary wolf teeth (yellow arrows) with smaller roots

The two teeth were quite large. Were they supernumerary wolf teeth, or supernumerary canines? Wolf teeth would need removing but canines should be left well alone due to the size of their roots. Bob came in for radiographs at the equine clinic. The x-rays showed that the teeth were large, supernumerary wolf teeth and therefore needed to be removed.

Sedation was given and nerve blocks were placed appropriately. Although large, the teeth were removed without incident, giving Bob no further excuse to misbehave on the bit in the future.

Extracted Tooth

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