Abscesses In Horse Teeth

Geoff Tucker, DVM FAQ - Advanced Leave a Comment

Abscesses Of Horse Teeth Are Rare

An abscess in a horse tooth is very rare. More commonly are infected draining tracts along the tooth. Long term antibiotics and diligent floating resolve most cases with surgery as a last resort.

Abscesses can occur within the tooth or along the side penetrating down to the tip of the root. While removal of the tooth has been the traditional and effective treatment, I have found a less dramatic solution. My reasoning is simple. As we look among the total horse population, if tooth abscesses were common and problematic in horses, wouldn’t we see draining puss fro the nostrils, face, or jaw everywhere? But they are not. They are usually self limiting AND I rarely, if ever, see a horse show pain from it.

Find And Treat The Cause
The question is, what caused the abscess in the first place? Often, it is a genetic defect in the tooth so removal is usually the end result. However, in most cases, I find that the tooth has become unhealthy and this has allowed a disease process to occur. How does it become unhealthy? If every tooth needs stimulation to remain solid in the jaw, it is the lack of stimulation that allows ever present bacteria to infiltrate the opportunity area.

Prevention Is The Key
To stimulate the tooth, two things are necessary. First, the tooth needs to have pressure applied to it. Second, the tongue needs to push it around and clean up the attachment area. If pain is present, the horse will avoid chewing in that area. He will even pack food there to prevent the sore cheek from touching the sharp tooth. In addition, the tongue will avoid these sharp areas. The result is lack of stimulation with subsequent disease formation.

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