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Discussion on Cracked Tooth

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Jayne W.
Username: jaynew

Post Number: 7
Registered: 10-2010
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 9:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O,

We had a vet come out and give shots and hand float some of the horses at the barn. One of the horses, who is 25 yo, has never been floated according to his owner who has had him a good portion of his life. She said he has never shown any issues or problems and it had never been brought up by her vet that he may need it done.

In the process of hand floating the horse the vet said that one of the horse's molars was cracked vertically down into the root so they had to pull it. She was very confident that she thought this crack was due to a kick to the jaw from another horse. I see this horse every single day and I have never noticed any kind of visible trauma that would indicate that type injury. I figure there would have to be some bit of force to crack a tooth, and that would leave some visible mark or swelling. Also, he has had no problems whatsoever with eating. I just mostly see him grazing or eating hay since the owner does not feed him a concentrate regularly. She will occasionally give him a scoop of oats as a "treat" and even she said that he has not had any problems eating.

There was also no infection or anything. I know this is a far fetched question to try and have answered, but, do you think this cracked tooth really could have been caused by a kick, which left absolutely NO signs. (I had a mare at my previous barn who DID in fact get kicked in the jaw by an unshod horse and it literally looked like she had a basketball on the side of her face because of the swelling.) Or, do you think it could have been cracked while the vet was floating his teeth? I am new in this area and trying to find a vet and I am a little skeptical of some things this particular vet has told other owners in the past few months I've been here. I wondered if this may be something else that should make me get some more recommendations for another vet.

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Username: theresab

Post Number: 61
Registered: 4-2010
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 1:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


My 30 yo gelding had 2 cracked molars that were yanked without any problems. My vet wasn't sure how it happened but he didn't get his first teeth float until he was 18. He never showed any problems either but his teeth were awful. They had to use the drill on them because his points were so long. After his first float I was very good about maintaining them. One 6 month check he showed up with cracked teeth, no trauma, no cracks notice 6 months prior. I think sometimes they just crack as they age. Dr. O will be able to answer it better but I just attributed his to aging.

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Jayne W.
Username: jaynew

Post Number: 8
Registered: 10-2010
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 2:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Thanks for your input. I, too, thought it may be just due to age. That was actually my original comment but my husband said the vet was SURE it was due to trauma. That's why I wondered if maybe she had actually cracked it while she was working in there. I have a 25 yo and a 21 yo myself and I have them checked, and floated if needed, every year. I haven't had to deal with any cracked teeth with either of them yet.

I was just curious if it really made sense a horse can be kicked in the face hard enough to crack a tooth and have no sign of trauma, pain, etc. As I said in my original post, I am a bit turned off by this vet due to some previous information she has passed onto other owners at the barn so I wondered about her "diagnosis" as to this cracked tooth.

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Heidi Hocker
Username: heidih

Post Number: 237
Registered: 9-1999
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 1:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Jayne,

I have a 12 YO mare that was diagnosed with a cracked molar late last year. My regular vet referred me to a veterinary dental specialist. He and I had a long discussion about cracked teeth and what was likely to cause them. My mare had a molar pulled and has another molar with a cavity that is likely to crack, that he'd like to try to save.

According to him, unless you see visible signs of trauma, most horses won't crack a tooth due to outside influences. The teeth crack due to cavities and uneven wear and pressure within the mouth.

He's pioneering some interesting techniques to try and save mildly cracked teeth and teeth with small cavities, by filling them, trying to prevent the radical step of pulling a tooth. He's also been travelling to UC Davies to complete an internship their small animal dental program, as well as work with equine veterinary intern student to teach some of his new techniques.
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Jayne W.
Username: jaynew

Post Number: 9
Registered: 10-2010
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 2:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Thanks for your input!! That makes perfect sense to me, and considering the horse is about 25 yo and had never been floated, I originally commented to the owner that I thought it would have been more likely from his age and natural wear and tear.

Thanks again for the input!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: dro

Post Number: 25735
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 5:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Jayne,
I agree, without signs of external trauma the idea that a kick might have caused the crack seems a bit far fetched. On the other hand floating is not a likely cause either unless the horse bit down hard on the float blade or speculum. As teeth erupt and the body and roots shallow out they do become more fragile and uneven pressure across the occlusal surface is the likely cause. This unevenness could be the result of the shape of the opposing tooth.
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Jayne W.
Username: jaynew

Post Number: 10
Registered: 10-2010
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2011 - 10:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Dr. O!!
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