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Tooth loss and the older horse

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  • Tooth loss and the older horse

    I have a 25 year old TB who I've owned for nearly 15 years. Aside from a little arthritis, he's in good health and good weight. He's had regular dental care since I've owned him, and probably the whole time prior while he was racing.

    Last fall, I accepted a new job and moved barns about the same time. I had his teeth checked and done by my trusted vet, not my usual dentist, in Oct. right before we moved barns. No issues, just usual wear.

    New barn is out of range of my old vet and dentist. New barn uses their vet to handle all dentistry. New job has had me too busy to meet a dentist out there, so I settled for having the barn's vet do my horses' teeth in April. I could not meet the vet out there that day (new job, argh).

    I get a phone call afterwards-- 2 loose molars needed extracting, so the vet removed them. Horse has "old horse mouth" but no other issues.

    Fast forward to this weekend: it's been 3 months since last dental exam. I notice a bulge on the right side of his face. Reach my hand in his mouth and I can wiggle his first upper molar. Horse is still eating and drinking fine, doesn't seem painful. No strange odors.

    I have not called the vet yet (weekend), but he will be out to the barn on Wednesday and I plan on having him check the tooth and remove it if necessary. I plan on doing my darndest to be there.

    My question: Is it typical for older horses to experience so much tooth loss so quickly? Could the extraction of the other molars in the spring caused shifting that is loosening other teeth? Could periodontal disease set in that quickly? Is there anything else I should be concerned about?

    I have had geriatric horses in the past, but to have so much tooth loss in such a short period of time is a new one on me. I would like to preserve his remaining teeth as long as possible, as I'd like to prolong time until that downhill spiral that ensues once horses can no longer safely eat hay...
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

  • #2
    I can only speak from my experience with my older guy (35 this past June!). He did go through about six months where every 5-6 weeks he had to have another tooth removed... and they were easy pulls, no sedation even (fortunately given his age). I now have him check almost every month when the vet who specializes in dental/chiro comes through... just in case. Now Raalph is at the point where he cannot eat hay, but happily munches down mash and still looks great and acts spry!

    Becky & the boys
    Becky & Red
    In Loving Memory of Gabriel, 1998-2005 and Raalph, 1977-2013

    Comment


    • #3
      We had one that was 37 when we had to put him down due to issues unrelated to age. He lived very well on soaked beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and a senior grain for the last seven years. Tooth loss does not equal spiral downward. It only means different food management.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by crthunder View Post
        He did go through about six months where every 5-6 weeks he had to have another tooth removed... and they were easy pulls, no sedation even (fortunately given his age).
        Good to know! I guess it's not completely anomalous to lose so many during a short period of time.


        Originally posted by My Two Cents View Post
        We had one that was 37 when we had to put him down due to issues unrelated to age. He lived very well on soaked beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and a senior grain for the last seven years. Tooth loss does not equal spiral downward. It only means different food management.
        That's very true. Wow, 7 years... I have had them do well on no hay/soft diets, but never for that long! (My bank account is groaning )
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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        • #5
          Tooth loss can be related to / a result of cushings and the break down of connective tissue that goes along with the disorder. Keep an eye out for other symptoms over the next few months.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think that once the first tooth goes, the rest are usually not far behind. We have a 25 yr old TB mare at my barn and so far, to my knowledge, she has lost 2 teeth. One was extracted by the vet and the second one was just "missing" one day.

            She is in great health otherwise. Se still is eating hay and is fat and shiny.
            come what may

            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

            Comment


            • #7
              Google: EOTRH

              http://www.midwestequineservices.com/eotrh_syndrome.cfm

              Can't say this is what is wrong of course, but I have a retiree here that has this. Never know when he is going to be one less tooth from day to day.
              Facta non verba

              Comment


              • #8
                Our horse club recently had an equine vet speak on equine dentistry. He has two specialties, small animal orthopedics and equine dentistry. He came to the dentistry part through problems he was having with his own horses. He now teaches that we have done harm by our over use of power tools. Excess heat and vibration damages the dentine and roots, the use of the 'cut off' disk across the incisors should seldom be done, and the head needs to be kept low and rested often. He also says you should take a tooth down in stages, horses who have been taken down too far too fast can have the dentine damaged and the tooth can die. Equine dental studies are showing a rise in the number of teeth needing to be removed and it appears to relate to power tools.
                His presentation created a lot of discussion. One of the questions asked about buteing for pain afterward so the horse can eat......he felt that for regular work there should be no pain issues and certainly no trouble eating.
                Here's my disclosure: I asked this vet to speak at our meeting after he checked my 16 yo gelding who was having all kinds of mouth issues. This gelding has had 'professional' dentistry all his life and now I find out that he has the teeth of a 25 yo horse due to misguided grinding away of the tooth surface. And yes, he has had his incisors cut back so the molars could line up and I was told not to worry because the teeth keep growing. Well, at least the horse knew it was all wrong, he was so bad the last time the dentist gave up, no amount of drugs would make him stand still.....which is why this current vet ended up looking at him.
                So frustrating when you try to do right and find out your wrong.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by lawndart View Post
                  Google: EOTRH

                  http://www.midwestequineservices.com/eotrh_syndrome.cfm

                  Can't say this is what is wrong of course, but I have a retiree here that has this. Never know when he is going to be one less tooth from day to day.
                  Interesting stuff! He actually does have a bit calcification along his incisiors... not as dramatic as the pictures but enough to make me wonder. What causes it?
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Everything you mentioned in your OP can be very normal. I've seen 6 molars all pulled at once because suddenly that many teeth had expired.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by twadwis View Post
                      He now teaches that we have done harm by our over use of power tools. Excess heat and vibration damages the dentine and roots, the use of the 'cut off' disk across the incisors should seldom be done, and the head needs to be kept low and rested often. He also says you should take a tooth down in stages, horses who have been taken down too far too fast can have the dentine damaged and the tooth can die. Equine dental studies are showing a rise in the number of teeth needing to be removed and it appears to relate to power tools.
                      30 years of experience floating teeth has brought me to the same conclusions. Power tools are not the answer. Good hand tools with sharp files are all that are necessary to do superior work and no harm inside the horse's mouth.
                      http://www.traditionalequinedentistry.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sounds like this guys has no or very little real world experience and is jumping on the scare tactic band wagon. Anyone that is familiar with floating knows that hand floating causes much more stress on the tooth roots then power tools. I won't go into the rest of it since there are so many things about what this person is saying are untrue. A little common sense goes a long way!


                        Originally posted by twadwis View Post
                        Our horse club recently had an equine vet speak on equine dentistry. He has two specialties, small animal orthopedics and equine dentistry. He came to the dentistry part through problems he was having with his own horses. He now teaches that we have done harm by our over use of power tools. Excess heat and vibration damages the dentine and roots, the use of the 'cut off' disk across the incisors should seldom be done, and the head needs to be kept low and rested often. He also says you should take a tooth down in stages, horses who have been taken down too far too fast can have the dentine damaged and the tooth can die. Equine dental studies are showing a rise in the number of teeth needing to be removed and it appears to relate to power tools.
                        His presentation created a lot of discussion. One of the questions asked about buteing for pain afterward so the horse can eat......he felt that for regular work there should be no pain issues and certainly no trouble eating.
                        Here's my disclosure: I asked this vet to speak at our meeting after he checked my 16 yo gelding who was having all kinds of mouth issues. This gelding has had 'professional' dentistry all his life and now I find out that he has the teeth of a 25 yo horse due to misguided grinding away of the tooth surface. And yes, he has had his incisors cut back so the molars could line up and I was told not to worry because the teeth keep growing. Well, at least the horse knew it was all wrong, he was so bad the last time the dentist gave up, no amount of drugs would make him stand still.....which is why this current vet ended up looking at him.
                        So frustrating when you try to do right and find out your wrong.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It all depends on whose hands the tools are held.

                          When a horse is about to lose a tooth, it can rock back and forth in its socket for quite some time before coming completely out. One of the problems with losing a tooth now and then is, the opposite grinding tooth, there is no longer a surface to grind against and some problematic things can happen (although I have had some pretty old horses and never had a problem, but I keep aware at what stage they are in.)

                          My old Arab (32), did the "now you see them, now you don`t" with his tooth loss, I found one in his feed pan and then they all seemed to disappear in a short time.

                          My old tb (31) has his intact (molars) except two, although the others are very worn down. He can still eat hay and grass. Arab without teeth spits out wads and pretends to graze with the other horses, although he just sucks on the wads and then spits them out. Both are on soaked senior pellets and doing great. I keep in mind that the Arab really isn`t getting much, if any but some juice, out of his pasture and hay so I make it up with a little more pellets at noon between his two other feedings.

                          I think people should stay aware of what condition their horses teeth are in, just like you would pay attention to something more visable, like hooves, because teeth play a big part in their health. I never OVER exposed them to having their teeth floated, just when they needed it BECAUSE.......I look in every one of my horses mouths with a headlamp on my head, so I know what is going on in there. Hooks on the first molars are common and wolf teeth are removed at gelding time or then about on others. I work with my horses early on, just part of their schooling, like picking up their feet.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This thread is extremely interesting!

                            For years, I used the hand-float guys and dutifully had them come no less than annually; when invariably, they would most vigorously float every horse on the place, making tons of noise about how this was an absolute necessity. Then why? I wondered, were most of our schoolies back in the 70's able to make out just fine without ever getting done? Hmmmm . . .

                            Well, started having, er, "professionalism" issues with several of the local hand floaters ("irregular fellows" you might say), and around the same time the vet practice we used added a fulltime DVM/Equine Dentist to their staff. The price was much higher than the hand-guys and it was sedation power-floating, which at first made me hesitate. Finally, circumstances were such that I told my clients it had to be.

                            Imagine my surprise when the Vet/Dentist checked EACH and EVERY horse in a herd of 22, and found NO ONE in need of floating! This when she stood to make $200 each for every one she did! That's HONESTY, man, which I sure as shootin' wasn't getting from those other guys! She said that horses eating pasture as opposed to inside don't need floating NEARLY as often, and indeed show a completely different wear pattern on their teeth!

                            She also introduced me to the greater management implications of the whole geriatric-losing-teeth phenomenon; lots of times a tooth is actually in the way of their grinding motion, and losing it allows them to eat BETTER. We have one old guy who still eats hay like a buzz saw (and the manure proves he's chewing it) with half the teeth gone in his mouth!

                            Year and a half after making the switch, recently got called by my old hand-floater, trying to get my business back with a harangue about how all that constant taking them down (he actually advocates TWICE a year most places!) is "preventing problems." Thank you for this thread, because it confirms my suspicions that, at least in my geriatric population, that might have been CAUSING some!

                            "Mah momma told me, ya better shop around . . . !"

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I have used both dentists who hand-float and those who use power tools over the years... all I will say either technique is only as good as the person behind the tool. That's why it makes me nervous that I've never seen new vet's dentistry skills in action, plus now my old guy is losing teeth at a rapid (IMO) rate.

                              Although, aside from my gelding's tooth loss, my horses seemed to come out of their floats with no issues.
                              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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