• horse;
  • dental;
  • oral;
  • endoscopy;
  • infection


Reasons for performing study: Removal of cheek teeth in all but the aged horse or pony is a serious undertaking with potentially deleterious sequellae. Rigid endoscopy permits detailed examination of the oral cavity and erupted dental tissues and has the potential to assist in the correct identification of the diseased tooth.

Objectives: To document oral endoscopic findings associated with infected equine cheek teeth in cases without gross oral pathological changes and thereby determine the usefulness of rigid oral endoscopy as an aid to diagnosis of such infections.

Methods: Records of all cases of equine cheek tooth removal attempted under standing sedation over a 38 month period were examined. Cases were excluded from the study if apical infection was associated with gross dental fracture, malalignment, diastema/periodontal pocketing or supernumerary teeth. Endoscopic and radiographic findings were analysed and correlated to diseased tooth location.

Results: Seventeen cases of apical dental infection fitting the inclusion criteria (nonresponsive to antibiotics and with no gross oral abnormality of the affected arcade) were identified in which oral endoscopy was used as an aid to diagnosis. In 15 (88%) of the 17 cases, oral endoscopy revealed abnormalities specific to the infected tooth. Focal gingival recession (10/17 cases) was the most common visible abnormality associated with infected teeth.

Conclusions: In the majority of cases of apical infection of equine cheek teeth there is visible intraoral evidence implicating the affected tooth.

Potential relevance: Oral endoscopy facilitates detailed examination of the mouth and should be considered along with radiography as an important aid to diagnosis in cases of equine dental infection.