Reasons for performing study: Dental disorders have a high prevalence in older donkeys and horses, but the nature and pathogenesis of many of these disorders have yet to be established.
Objectives: The identification and determination of the prevalence of important dental disorders in different age groups in a large single population of donkeys, to establish a better understanding of the nature and pathogenesis of these disorders.
Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was performed on the donkey population at The Donkey Sanctuary with detailed oral examinations of 357 donkeys within 7 different age groups (age range 2–53 years) recorded.
Results: The prevalence of dental disease in all donkeys was 73%, increasing in prevalence from 28% in the youngest to 98% in the oldest age group. There was an increase in prevalence of commonly recognised dental disorders with increasing age, such as: diastemata (3.8% in youngest to 86% in oldest group); missing teeth (0–56%); overgrown teeth (15–86%); worn teeth (8–84%); displaced teeth (0–38%); and periodontal disease (0–28%).
Conclusions: There was a significant increase in the prevalence of dental disorders with increasing age with the largest significant increase for most dental disorders occurring in the 15–20 year age group.
Potential significance: Most dental disorders significantly increase in prevalence in the 15–20 year age group and, therefore, prophylactic geriatric dental treatment in donkeys should be commenced from age 15 years.