EOTRH Syndrome in Horses
Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, also known as EOTRH, is a syndrome in horses that results in resorptive lesions of the incisors and sometimes canine teeth. It is usually gradual in onset, though often isn’t diagnosed until quite extensive lesions are present. Most commonly it is a condition of older horses (15+), though we have seen it in horses as young as 13.
While this syndrome has probably existed for many years, it has only been in recent years that it has been properly identified and named. Diagnosis is typically made through radiographs of the incisors. This is the only way to know definitively how many teeth are affected, and how severe the lesions are. We currently do not know the underlying cause for the syndrome. Because of this, there is no known treatment at this time to help prevent this from happening. The treatment for affected teeth is extraction based on staging of lesions present radiographically.
As the disease progresses, the roots of the incisors (and sometimes canines) start to resorb, or basically dissolve. In response to this, some horses develop hypercementosis, which is an excessive buildup of cementum (calcified tissue) on the roots of one or more teeth. This process can give the appearance of bulb-like swellings around around the roots of the affected teeth in response to try to stabilize these teeth. Unfortunately, as the disease progresses these teeth eventually start to loosen and become painful. As further resorption occurs, some horses may even fracture off weakened teeth. Many of these teeth become infected as well, as the roots continue to degrade. This can sometimes present with small red “dots” visible above the gum line of the incisors, or even small pimple-like draining tracts in this same area.
Many older horses are fairly stoic, and don’t always exhibit obvious outward signs of oral pain until the clinical disease is quite progressed. As severe changes occur, these horses can start to lose weight and go off feed. Some horses will also exhibit irritable behaviors when being bridled or ridden. Our goal is to avoid this from happening. In our experience, horses that are diagnosed and treated earlier on will have more positive outcomes (avoid pain and loss of weight). It is also interesting to note that many horses bounce back tenfold after extraction of these teeth, even those that end up having all of their incisors extracted at once. Where their owner didn’t realize there was a painful component to their disease, the horses become much more bright, happy, and personable after the extractions.
If you have questions regarding your horse, please don’t hesitate to call our office.