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Arthritis in the Jaw

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  • Arthritis in the Jaw

    One of my horses has been dropping a large amount of grain recently and has started loosing weight. I called my vet tonight to make an appointment and as we were talking she mentioned he may have arthritis in his jaw. Does anyone have experience with this?

    My horse is 17-18 years old and on total retirement due to bone spurs in his back legs and arthritis in his knees. He just had his teeth floated in September. I am concerned because of the amount of grain I am finding on the ground and his weight loss. It has gotten really cold over the past two weeks so that may be aggravating it. Tonight I started wetting his feed and will continue to do so until the vet comes out and we know what is going on.

    Any advice would be helpful.

  • #2
    raises eyebrow
    not impossible but now you have me curious
    who's your vet?
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      I've never heard that one. Was he also dropping grain before his teeth were floated in September? What were you told about his mouth in September when his teeth were done? How was the arthritis diagnosis reached?


      • #4
        Sounds like your vet is jumping the gun. There are two things that stand out about this. 1. Your horse dropping grain..... dropping grain has nothing to do with a tooth or TMJ issue, that is a myth. Is your horse able to eat hay ok? 2. It is not uncommon for a horse to TMJ issues. Your vet should be able to easily check for this. If your horse has TMJ issues there are a few things that can be done to fix it.

        I really would not be too worried about it. Like I said, dropping grain is not an issue. That's just how some horses eat. If it is hay, which is much more difficult to tear and chew, then you may have an issue.


        • Original Poster

          My vet has not examined him yet. She is coming out on Monday to check his mouth. I am somewhat worried because in the last week he has been losing weight and the amount of grain he is dropping is quite large. I do not see anything such as a broken tooth, sore etc.... but I can only see so far.

          She mentioned the arthritis she also mentioned it in relation to TMJ. I looked on online after I posted this and did not see anything about arthritis in the jaw. In fairness to my vet, she mentioned other issues but I had not heard of a horse with arthritis in the jaw area before.

          Toothgrinder, he has always dropped a small amount of grain but nothing abnormal. When his teeth were floated, he had large hooks in the back but the vet removed them.

          I am not sure about how he is chewing his hay. I have had an unusually busy week and have not observed him eating the hay. I am going to watch him over the weekend to see if he is having any problems. I will keep everyone posted. Please continue to give me ideas on what elase it could be!

          Thanks everyone!


          • #6
            If he is eating hay ok, then you shouldn't be worried. If he is having much trouble he should be leaving quids.

            Start with the teeth. If the vet didn't do a full float with a speculum and level the bite make sure that is all good. If TMJ is suspected, then get it adjusted. If still a worry, inject the TMJ area, then lastly, inject the TMJ joint.


            • #7
              A horse having issues with hay won't necessarily leave quids behind as evidence. If the horse lives with others, and is fed hay where the others can get to it, you might not really notice issues with hay if you aren't watching.

              I have a mare who is 19, soon to be 20. She's had regular dental care since I bought her at 13. However, it wasn't until this past January that anyone ever bothered to check her incisors. They had never been trimmed, but the incisors don't wear very much on a horse who gets more hay than grass. The result was that between trimming and normal wear, the molars wore down, but not the incisors, so she couldn't close her mouth enough for the molars to meet. She stopped eating hay for over a year. I just thought she was being picky, as that is totally her style. But really she couldn't chew it, and she had a bad case of TMJ from not being able to close her mouth.

              Just something to check into, since the horse was fine, and had the teeth done recently. I've only ever met one dentist who checked to make sure the molars could meet, and I've lived in several states so dealt with several dentists.


              • #8
                Hampton Bay.... I agree. I said "much" trouble with the hay! Quids usually tell us that something drastic has changed if the horse has never done it before. Hopefully her vet knows enough that the incisors may need to be reduced also to make sure that the molars have the correct occlusion. It's pretty common to check for it after you finish the back teeth.


                • #9
                  I would be concerned that his chewing got worse not better after his float in September. Floating a geriatric is a delicate balancing act. Although it's necessary to removed tooth material through floating to make the horse comfortable and make the mouth function optimally, there is a downside. Many old timers are already running low on reserve crown and have fewer places to chew in order to properly process their rations. If an aggressive float is done and too much tooth is removed a fragile balance is lost and the mouth gets worse, not better. I would worry about letting the same folks who did the work in September trying to fix things in December. Are there any other options for mouth care in your area?


                  • Original Poster

                    Iwouldnot be able to see Quids because my horses are kept outdoors unless the weather is horrible. He cannot be stalled due to other issues. So... I am not sure what to do at this point. Wetting his food has seemed to help.

                    My vet does check the alignment and the incisors when they float them.

                    Toothgrinder- what areas do you work? Do travel state to state?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by spotnnotfarm View Post
                      My vet does check the alignment and the incisors when they float them.

                      Toothgrinder- what areas do you work? Do travel state to state?
                      I would worry much less about the incisors and much more about the molars. My concerns would be, do any large hooks remain that are causing pain and are there any high teeth that are impairing function? Are there numerous contact point along the molar arcades during chewing or has too much tooth been removed and are the molars no longer making good contact?
                      I'm lucky enough to live near some of the best horse country and horses in North America so I get to stay close to home.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by spotnnotfarm View Post
                        One of my horses has been dropping a large amount of grain recently and has started loosing weight.
                        You said things have changed recently which would not really point to a float done months ago unless the vet didn't get to the hooks on the very back teeth. Sounds like your vet at least has basic knowledge and knows to check the molars.

                        You need to do your vet and your horse a favor and take 30 minutes with your horse and put him in a stall and watch him eat hay. That will help a lot. A horse that is 17 or 18 should not really be having much trouble with it's teeth yet from age alone unless he has very bad genetics or unless some people have floated your horse that don't do a complete job. Like I said, check how he eats hay. That will tell you more then anything.


                        • #13
                          Not to go off topic but to those who skeptical of arthritis in the jaw, may I ask why? Purely in the interest of learning!

                          I have a 28 yr old with terrible chronic Lyme from way back when who it's believed has arthritis of the jaw based on symptoms, past Lyme history, jaw movement, etc.. His teeth are checked every 6 months, or when he starts quidding, whichever comes 1st. He does get as soft a timothy as I can find and he gets soaked beet pulp/alfalfa along with his grain. He gets a series of Pentosan shots every 6 months and (touch wood) this seems to keep him as happy as an old arthritic horse can be.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by davistina67 View Post
                            You said things have changed recently which would not really point to a float done months ago unless the vet didn't get to the hooks on the very back teeth. Sounds like your vet at least has basic knowledge and knows to check the molars.

                            You need to do your vet and your horse a favor and take 30 minutes with your horse and put him in a stall and watch him eat hay. That will help a lot. A horse that is 17 or 18 should not really be having much trouble with it's teeth yet from age alone unless he has very bad genetics or unless some people have floated your horse that don't do a complete job. Like I said, check how he eats hay. That will tell you more then anything.
                            I had already planned on doing that this weekend. I usually am able to watch the horses during their dinner andpartof their evening turnout but this week has been overly busy which is unusual for me. I will probably start watching tomorrow and through the weekend so I can report it to my vet and will update ya'll if I see anything.

                            I would also like to hear the answer to loves to ride. I have not heard of arthritis of the jaw but wonder if others get it.

                            Thanks again for all your time


                            • #15
                              Arthritis of the jaw can happen, it's just a bit premature to say that over the phone and isn't usually something that happens overnight. If there is something suddenly wrong it would more likely be the horse grabbed a panel and didn't let go and got it's tmj messed up, or while playing something happened. An acute injury like that can be treated and the horse usually does very well.


                              • #16
                                About the mention of the vet sounding like she knows enough to have checked the molars for hooks, that's really not always true.

                                I have a very good vet. She did a friend's mare's teeth one summer, and within 6 months the horse was dropping feed like mad and dropping weight about as easily. Had someone else out to do the teeth, and it turns out that this vet hadn't even touched the back half of the molars. There were points about 3/4" tall, and sharp enough to cut my fingers. Her hand floats just hadn't been able to get back there to do the job. And to make matters even worse, she charged more than the true expert guy I now use!

                                And my point about the incisors was that if they are too long, the molars can't do their job. With horses eating hay and grain, the incisors themselves don't do much at all. But in an older horse who has had regular floating of the molars, but never had the incisors addressed, it can cause issues with the molars and TMJ. I've only seen one out of 5 dentists I've used even bother to check that. Even the local tooth guru, who travels the state doing teeth and charges a fortune, doesn't bother to check that the molars meet.