Equine Dental Caries

Over the past 4 years a team of Dental vets in Australia have been researching the effects of diet on the horses teeth, most specifically a condition known as Peripheral Caries (basically tooth decay). There were several factors found to be significant risk factors, such as breed (warmbloods and western breed less likely to have caries than TBs), pasture access and quality (with horses less likely to have caries when on quality grazing all year round) as well as the use of Oaten hay in the diet. Horses on oat hay were almost 3 times more likely to have peripheral caries than those not on oat hay. Horse on Meadow/Rhodes hay were less than half as likely to have caries.

The pictures below are part of their findings involving Oat Hay. The horse in question had been fed exclusively on oat hay previously.

Picture 1: Off Oat hay for one month.

In the above picture the Green arrows show the start of the new cementum erupting down since the diet was changed, the red arrows show where the caries/decay has stripped off the outer layer of cementum off the teeth.

Picture 2: 18 months after

In this picture we can see that the caries have almost grown out. Interestingly enough during the 18months he had a period of time where oat hay was re fed and we can see that as the brown lines of decay (orange arrows). These are also now growing out.

Fortunately this condition only affects the part of the tooth that is in the mouth at the time and so if we change the diet and change the environment for the teeth, then we can allow the healthy tooth to erupt and get back to normal.


Full article can be found via the address onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/evj.12718/abstract or simply visit Dental Vet via facebook for more pictures and info.

Equine peripheral dental caries:an epidemiological survey assessing prevalence and possible risk factors in Western Australian horses. K.Jackson, E. Kelly and M.Tennant. Equine Veterinary Journal Vol 50, Issue 1 p 79-84, Jan 2018

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