Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Wolf teeth

Contributor(s): Gordon Baker, Jack Easley, Graham Munroe, Chris Pearce

Introduction

  • Incidence: vestigial first premolar tooth usually found in the upper jaw of approximately 20-80% of horses, occasionally seen in the lower jaw. No deciduous precursor. 
  • Normally in contact with rostral cheek tooth arcade and rarely a problem unless displaced rostrally/medially or abnormally erupted. When unerrupted they are referred to as blind wolf teeth.
  • Signs: problems involving the bit are possible, though unproven.
  • Treatment: extraction is undertaken standing either under local/regional analgesia with appropriate restraint or sedation following elevation of the tooth.
  • Prognosis: good; partial removal of the tooth should be avoided but is not uncommon. Small alveolar root fragments are unlikely to be a long-term problem.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Found at different levels in different breeds but present in up to 80% of Thoroughbreds.

Pathophysiology

  • First premolar 1 ('wolf tooth'):
    • A vestigial tooth.
    • Variably present in horses.
    • Much more common in the upper jaw.
    • Usually bilateral.
    • Not usually symmetrical in position in relation to cheek teeth arcade.
    • Size varies.
    • Degree of eruption varies and determines their clinical significance.
  • The tooth is normally in contact with the rostral margin of the first maxillary cheek tooth and in this position rarely interferes with the bit.
  • If tooth is displaced rostrally (up to 2 cm) or medially to first cheek tooth (second premolar) or delayed/impacted in eruption (underneath gum) interference with the bit may be a problem. Tooth may come into contact with abnormal bit behavior, eg bit chewing.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Easley J (1998)Dental corrective procedures.Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract14(2), 414-416PubMed.
  • Scrutchfield W Let al(1993)Examination of the oral cavity and routine dental care.Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract9(1),123-131PubMed.
  • Scott E A (1982)Surgery of the oral cavity.Vet Clin North Am Large An Pract.4(1), 3-31PubMed.


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