A postmortem study on the prevalence of peripheral dental caries in Scottish horses

L Lee, Richard Reardon, Paddy Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral caries (PC) is an increasingly recognised equine dental disorder with unknown predisposing factors that differs from the well described maxillary cheek teeth infundibular caries. Advanced PC can lead to premature wear and fracture of cheek teeth and thus is of welfare importance. Recent studies have shown large variation in the prevalence of PC in different European countries, with a trend towards a greatly increasing prevalence. One hundred and one equine heads sourced from a Scottish rendering plant were examined for the presence and grade of PC using the modified Honma equine dental caries grading system. The presence of cheek teeth calculus, diastemata and fractures was also recorded. Peripheral caries was present in 91% of horses; only affected the cheek teeth and was predominantly (72.6%) Grade 1 Class 1 (localized pitting lesions only affecting cementum). The caudal three cheek teeth were more commonly affected (74.7% prevalence) as compared to the rostral three cheek teeth (32.1% prevalence). The palatal aspect of maxillary and the buccal aspect of mandibular cheek teeth were significantly (245% and 170%, respectively) more commonly affected by PC than the opposite sides. Female horses were more commonly affected than males. Because post mortem examination allows the most detailed oral examination to be performed, this may partly explain the higher PC prevalence found in the current, as compared to previous studies, in addition to the particular population examined in this study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-101
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
Issue number2
Early online date21 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Horse
  • equine dental disease
  • dental caries
  • peripheral dental caries survey


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