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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • Thoroughbred;
  • dentition;
  • tooth;
  • premolar;
  • eruption;
  • emergence

Summary

Reasons for performing study: There are few published data to support the ages of emergence of permanent dentition widely reported in horses.

Objectives: To clarify the chronology and sequence of permanent premolar (PM) tooth emergence in Thoroughbred racehorses.

Methods: A prospective study was undertaken in which records were kept of deciduous PM ‘cap’ extractions performed during routine dental examinations in Thoroughbred racehorses. Mixed effects multiple regression analysis was used to relate the observed ages, measured in days, for PM ‘cap’ extractions simultaneously with different predictive variables. Care was taken to account for clustering of multiple observed outcomes within individual horses.

Results: A total of 508 deciduous premolar ‘caps’ were removed from 207 horses, mean ages at removal from PM2, PM3 and PM4 were 35.1, 37.7 and 45.1 months, respectively. Age at which deciduous ‘cap’ removal occurred was associated significantly with tooth row, upper or lower jaw and gender of the horse concerned. There was a significant trend for later ‘cap’ extraction age with more caudal teeth, teeth in the upper jaw and female gender.

Conclusions: Age at removal of deciduous premolar ‘caps’ in this population differed considerably from the ages of emergence of permanent dentition reported widely in equine publications. The results provide the first evidence of sexual dimorphism in the eruption of the permanent premolar dentition in horses. These findings strongly support a model of cheek tooth eruption in the horse in which chronology and sequence of emergence are more complex than previously thought, but which is consistent with understanding of tooth eruption in species that have been studied in greater detail.

Potential relevance: Abnormalities of cheek tooth eruption are thought to be a factor in the pathogenesis of a variety of dental conditions, and a thorough understanding of the process of eruption is fundamental to the development of rational strategies for prevention and treatment.