Henry continues to be the horse that teaches me the most in pretty much every regard. Sometimes it’s about good things, like cross country. Other times it’s about all the super rando things you’ve never even heard of in your life that you can spend money on in pursuit of keeping them happy and healthy. Friday was the latter.
Earlier this month Henry and Presto had a routine dental appointment, during which we discovered another potential problem tooth. Last year he had to have a broken one removed (which was very not fun) and he had another one that was inevitably trending the same way. The dentist recommend that I bring him into the clinic for what was essentially described as a “filling”, to prevent the tooth from actually breaking. The earliest I could get an appointment was mid-October, but last Thursday they called and said they’d had some cancellations, did I want to bring him in on Friday instead? Heck yes. Let’s get this over with.
The real name for the procedure is infundibular restoration, and I’ll be honest it was pretty fun to watch. Mostly because it was quick and relatively straightforward with zero gore, which automatically makes it much easier than basically any other dental-related stuff. The toughest part about it was the sedation, really. Henry is a mega-lightweight; a super cheap date. He was snoozing pretty fast.
Then the tooth cleaning began. Just a quick recap of the actual issue if you don’t want to go back and read: Henry is in the relative minority of horses that have irregular or missing cementum in some of their teeth. Cementum is the stuff inside the inner pillars (infundibulum) of the tooth that give the structure it’s strength and keep it stable. In horses that have these irregularities with their cementum, as they age and the tooth erupts further and further up into the mouth and is worn down, these gaps eventually work their way to the surface of the tooth. The missing cementum makes the tooth more fragile and more prone to breaking and/or infection. Which… is obviously bad. Henry’s broken tooth from last year was due to this same issue, and I would prefer to never have to put any of us through that again if we can at all avoid it. The gap in this particular tooth was quite large and the vet gave it a 90% chance of breaking within the next year or two. The recommended treatment to prevent this: infundibular restoration (aka a “filling”).
Using the endoscope and what was essentially a big fancy water pick, the vet began by flushish all the packed material out of the tooth hole. There was a good bit of old food packed down in there, so it was mega stanky, but eventually he was able to get it all out. After that it was as simple as filling the hole with the dental composite. He would put a little bit in, set it with the curing light, put a little more in, set it with the curing light, on and on until the hole was filled. Very very similar to a human filling.
Granted, it was a pretty big hole, but still, setting up the equipment and cleaning out the hole took longer than actually filling it. The end product is a much stronger, nicely-filled tooth that should hopefully last indefinitely. The success rate for this procedure is quite high, so fingers crossed that this works for Henry too. It’s definitely much cheaper, easier, less invasive, and less problematic than having to pull a broken tooth. Once he woke up from the sedation that was the end of it – no particular aftercare. He was free to eat normally and be ridden normally.
As of now all looks good. By the time we got home from the vet he was fully returned to normal and went right back out to his pasture. Henry will be on a 6 month dental rotation for likely the rest of his life, in an effort to keep ahead of these issues with his cementum and try to prevent any further broken teeth. Apparently our equine dentist is one of only a few in the country that offers infundibular restoration at all, so it’s pretty fortunate that we have him available to us given Henry’s particular issues.
In 21 years of owning horses I had never heard of or seen this particular procedure before, but it was pretty neat… always something new to learn with horses though, right?