The prevalence of secondary dentinal lesions in cheek teeth from horses with clinical signs of pulpitis compared to controls



Reasons for performing study: With the advent of detailed oral examination in horses using dental mirrors and rigid endoscopy, secondary dentinal lesions are observed more frequently. More information regarding the association of secondary dentinal defects with apical dental disease would improve the sensitivity of oral examination as a diagnostic aid for pulpitis.

Objectives: To assess prevalence and severity of secondary dentinal defects observed on examination of occlusal surfaces of cheek teeth (CT) from horses showing clinical signs of pulpitis compared to asymptomatic controls.

Methods: Records from all cases of equine CT exodontia at the University of Bristol over a 4 year period were examined. Case selection criteria included the presence of clinical signs of pulpitis, an intact extracted tooth and availability of a complete history and follow up. Cases where coronal fracture or periodontal pocketing featured were excluded. CT from cadavers with no history of dental disease served as normal controls. Triadan positions and eruption ages of control teeth were matched with those of teeth extracted from cases. CT from selected cases and control teeth were examined occlusally. Secondary dentinal defects were identified and graded. Prevalence of occlusal lesions in CT with pulpitis and controls was compared.

Results: From the records of 120 horses where exodontia was performed, 40 cases matched selection criteria. Twenty-three mandibular and 21 maxillary CT were extracted from cases. The controls consisted of 60 mandibular and 60 maxillary CT from 7 cadaver skulls. Secondary dentinal defects were significantly over-represented in CT extracted from cases of pulpitis (P<0.001). Of diseased mandibular CT, 56.5% had defects compared to none of the controls. Of diseased maxillary CT, 57% had defects compared with 1.6% of controls. Multiple defective secondary dentinal areas and severe lesions were more prevalent in diseased mandibular CT compared with diseased maxillary CT.

Conclusions and practical significance: Careful examination of occlusal secondary dentine is an essential component in investigation of suspected pulpitis in equine CT.