Accurate diagnosis is the key to understanding any individual horse’s dental problems. However, once these have been identified treatment of malocclusions or focal dental overgrowths may be necessary.
At Rossdales Equine Hospital, our access to a variety of specialised motorised and non-motorised equipment allows for flexibility in the treatment of the full range of conditions that can be encountered in equine dental practice.
The pictures to the right illustrate the procedure known as ‘diastema widening’. A ‘diastema’ is a gap between teeth and in equine dentistry usually refers to an abnormal gap between two of the ‘grinding’ or cheek teeth. Cheek teeth should normally fit together as a single tightly packed unit however in some horses gaps may develop due to malalignments or tooth loss or simply old age. When food gets trapped in these gaps ‘periodontal disease’ can be the result, and affected horses can display quite a lot of oral pain when eating, as well as showing ridden problems.
Periodontal disease is a troublesome condition to treat, but in some circumstances it is appropriate to open or widen the gaps using motorised burrs. This is best done under endoscopic control to ensure the burring is precise and doesn’t harm the pulp tissue that keeps teeth healthy.
Diastema widening can help prevent food material getting trapped and in some horses allows the teeth to shuffle closer together, resulting in improvement over time. Other treatments that complement this procedure are remedial work to remove dental overgrowths, irrigation and filling of periodontal pockets and antibiotic therapy.