Equine diastema (the plural of which is "diastemata") is one of the most painful conditions of the horse's mouth, making it a high priority within equine dentistry. However, equine diastema is often difficult to identify immediately since the cause is usually progressive as the horse ages. The main cause of this equine dentistry problem is when the gaps between a horse’s teeth are too large. Over time, horses’ teeth roots shrink in the gum, making it easier for gaps to develop between teeth. Diastema can also occur when teeth are displaced or fractured. While many horses develop diastema as they age, some may acquire equine diastema at a young age when their teeth come in incorrectly.
Pain occurs when food gets lodged in these gaps, pushing on the teeth and nerves in the mouth. Over time, the food can compress the gum, leaving a dip when the food is removed and sometimes exposing the nerve. Other than pain, symptoms of diastema include difficulty eating and chewing. These side effects can cause weight loss or choking, and in severe cases can lead to death. Equine diastema can cause halitosis, inflammation and damage to hard and soft tissues, gingival disease, periodontal disease, and tooth loss.
The severe consequences of equine diastema can be prevented with basic, consistent equine dentistry. However, treatment does require a professional. The gaps between the horse’s teeth should be widened so that food can be more easily dislodged and not build up over time. Most importantly, be aware that the equine dentistry treatment for diastema is not a one-time affair. Since horses’ teeth grow perpetually, it’s important to have consistent dental exams every three to six months.
If you believe your horse may have equine diastema, call Mid-Rivers Equine Centre today and schedule an appointment with one of our equine dentistry staff.