Fractured Teeth

After my 10-year-old mare presented a few days of green, foul-smelling discharge from one nasal cavity, I called the veterinarian, who found a fractured tooth in her mouth.

The X-rays taken showed one definite root abscess in the tooth, possibly two. The mare was started on two antibiotics for 30 days. How does a problem like this develop’

Horse Journal Response: Fractures account for less than 1% of equine dental problems. They’re generally classified as idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. However, the most likely explanation is decay leading to fracture. Decay is most often found in the upper-cheek teeth, which is also where most fractures occur.

One large survey found 39% of horses with fractured teeth had no symptoms. Of the remainder, quidding, problems with the bit, behavioral issues and malodorous breath were the most common symptoms. Odds are that the difference between horses with symptoms and those without is whether or not the damage involves the sensitive tissues of the teeth.

Various treatments have been used, from removal of small pieces and rounding of any sharp edges, to complete extraction. If the fracture involves the entire tooth, and there is a resultant infection in the sinuses, removal is likely to be the only long-term solution. Fortunately, removal and flushing/treatment of the sinuses should result in a full recovery for the horse.

Extraction is sometimes attempted with heavy sedation and nerve blocks, but the consensus is that general anesthesia and an approach through the sinus is the best way to do it. In your case, if the roots are loose, removal through the mouth may be possible