What R Your Experiences with Abcessed Teeth?

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Well-Known Member
Dec 2, 2002
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NE Minnesota by Beautiful Lake Superior
A couple weeks ago one of my mares had a lump on her face that slowly got bigger. Since weather was hot and flies were around I figured a bite. Finally it broke open with drainage. At that time I suspected an abcess. Called the vet and she said abcessed tooth, lanced and drained the lump and we treated with antibiotics. She said a recurrence would probably not happen. Guess what!?

Yesterday I noticed a lump start forming. Tonight I squeezed and got puss so expressed it as well as possible and washed the area well. I will call the vet and let her know the problem is back.

The mare eats well and shows no discomfort which surprises me. The tooth is way in the back. I am thinking this is a problem that will keep happening over and over after treatment until the tooth comes out. What are your experiences with this type of situation?

How much of an ordeal is it to remove a tooth on a 31" mini? Have any of your horses had to go to a surgical center or university?

Experiences and opinions appreciated.

(She is not one of the mares I have on the sale board.)

I've only had experience with 1. It was on a tooth that had been cracked in a scuffle with a new mother bovine.

There was no pain on the tooth itself, so chewing and eating wasn't an issue. However, there was rather extreme tenderness around the swelling which did continue to come back until the tooth was pulled.

I can't tell you how much of an ordeal it is to do this with a 31" mini, but it was very stressful for this 71" human.

Maybe someone else can tell us both how you keep a horse from getting dry sockets in the days after it's pulled.
I would call on an Equine Dentist. Perhaps have it removed. If necessary your vet and dentist can work together to anesthetize(sp)her to remove it.
We have had an abcessed tooth on a full-size horse. Started out much like you described. It is definitely better if it is on a lower jaw than upper, much easier to drain.

In our case, the abcess was due to a broken tooth. Initially, vets recommended just washing and keeping a scab from forming on the hole located on the underside of her jaw. It would heal and appear fine for 1-2 months at a time, then break open again. X-rayed, recommended removal of the tooth. On the lower jaw, they drill up through the jaw bone to remove. Debrided the area of some bone chips, which were believed to be the culprit. Healing was a BIG deal. Ours was a picky eater, so while she was supposed to only eat SR feed so there would be any hay getting lodged in the open socket during healing, but she wouldn't touch it, would only eat hay, naturally. It eventually appeared to heal, but continued draining off and on. Went back for additional surgery a year later, vets thought they might have missed a chip, found essentiall nothing, and took another 2-3 months to heal up. Continued drainage (this went on for nearly 2 years), so had a different vet use a pipette to shoot iodine up into the cavity (hole in jaw was still there due to the on/off drainage) to see if he could figure out anything when he radiographed her again. Apparently, the pippette was the ticket, and finally dislodged the last bit of whatever out of the cavity where it FINALLY healed up.

We have been assured that ours was a most unusual case, but I still wouldn't take tooth removal lightly. Removal isn't something a vet can come out to your farm and do, nor can an equine dentist that travels about. It is flat out major surgery, and the only places we found with facilities to do so were universities, and equine surgical facilities. Good luck.

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