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Discussion on Tooth decay and molasses in feed

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Imogen Bertin
Username: Imogen

Post Number: 708
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 3:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Dr O

My friend just went to seminar on Irish draught horse breeding where the vet who was one of the lecturers stated that feed containing molasses can cause dental decay in horses.

I had a memory that I had read here that this was not so because horse tooth enamel is different to human and does not harbour the same bacteria which cause human dental caries when sugar is present in the mouth. But I did a search and I can't find anything, so perhaps my memory is faulty and I'm just wondering what you think about this.

I'm interested because I have a mare with a sweet tooth who only likes to eat molassed coarse (sweet) mix and molassed sugar beet pulp! She also has pretty bad teeth (large interdental spaces).

I was interested that this year my vet gave me a complete equine dental chart after floating her teeth but this lists where she gets the sharp edges, nothing about any holes!

Thanks for any information you have. I've always wondered about this. Maybe I read it in one of my stable management books, that molasses doesn't rot horse teeth. I shall go and peruse them in the mean time!

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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: Dro

Post Number: 13729
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Sep 19, 2005 - 7:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

For horses with normal teeth, dental caries is a rare event even after a lifetime of eating sweet feed. I don't think it has anything to do with the different types of enamel but mainly has to do with the short period of time the sugar is in the mouth each day. The constant chewing of forage rapidly clears the mouth of excess simple sugars.

You do see caries where there is damage to the teeth and where there are areas that trap feed. The condition is known as diastemata. Usually you can detect this by smelling your horses breath. For more see, Care for Horses » Particular Situations & Procedures » Equine Dentistry.
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