I went to the barn this morning for what was supposed to be a quick vet visit. I actually hadn’t met our new vet yet, so I wanted to do that, plus barn time in the middle of the day sounded great.
On the docket: teeth and a lyme shot.
We got 95% of the way through the visit with no incident, I like the new vet very much, we even did a sheath cleaning while he was drugged up, and then the vet swiped his hand around in Tristan’s mouth one last time…and found a nasty little surprise on the left lower side of his mouth.
This is where I confess to an area of total ignorance around horses. You see, Tristan is the only horse whose mouth I’ve ever known so intimately. I do not have a ton of comparisons; I just have not looked deeply inside a lot of mouths.
So I did not realize that he did not have normal canine teeth. They just weren’t there…so I didn’t think about it. He’s had half a dozen vets in his mouth and no one has ever pointed out anything abnormal.
Well, Tristan does not have normal canine teeth. His lower canine teeth are what I now know as “blind” canines: they just never erupted. He has an abnormally wide space for his bit groove. I had absolutely no idea.
Except now one of them has erupted. Sort of. Or more accurately, it somehow got infected and the gum is open down to the tooth. Which is obviously NOT GREAT. And the cherry on top of NOT GREAT is that if we can’t halt the infection, it’s a difficult surgical process to extract it. (And expensive. Don’t forget expensive. Two days at a clinic expensive.)
So for now, he gets antibiotics and flushing 2x a day, and the x-rays we took are off to a specialty radiologist. The vet thought, on first glance, that the root of the tooth looked okay and that if we can beat the infection then the gum will just re-granulate back over the tooth and he will go back to being a weirdo without a canine tooth. (Well, it’s there – they both showed up on x-ray – but they are both below the gum line.) Hopefully the radiologist will concur.
I mean, the silver lining here is that he has exhibited no signs of pain or sensitivity (I’ve been riding regularly and he had a very intense lesson yesterday), no signs of quidding his hay or otherwise having trouble eating. When we found the infected bit it’s not like we had an OMG PUS moment, just a “well shit, dig it out, okay, there’s clean blood” moment; it doesn’t look great but I’ve seen some nasty infections and I would not classify this in that category. Plus, if we do have to extract, that’s obviously expensive and difficult but barring a problem with the procedure itself it’s not like he needs the tooth.