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Fracture of Incisive Bone of Upper Jaw or Mandibular Incisors Lower Jaw

Synonyms: Fractured Incisors

Fracture of the incisive bone of the upper jaw or the mandible that houses the incisor teeth is a common injury, especially in younger horses. Often, this happens when a horse bites down on a rigid structure, feels pressure and then pulls back, causing the incisor teeth to become displaced or the bone to break. Young horses are more likely to engage in this behavior.

In many cases, this injury goes unnoticed for days. In some of those cases, the only treatment may be removal of loose, badly damaged teeth and dead bone. When discovered soon after injury, inter-dental wiring may be performed in selected cases. This may help to maintain normal appearance, alignment and function of the teeth.

The long term consequences of the fracture depends on whether or not the permanent teeth or tooth buds are damaged. If they are, permanent teeth will either not form or will be deformed. Your vet may take radiographs of the area to assess the severity of the damage. This may help provide a prognosis.

Prognosis & Relevant Factors

The prognosis for most of these injuries is good, but it depends on the specific configuration of the fracture. There may be long-term damage to the permanent teeth, which may require special dental maintenance. Even horses that lose their incisor teeth usually are able to eat surprisingly well.

QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • How does the prognosis change if we do not treat, versus treat with wiring or other surgical repair?
  • What will I need to do after surgery to monitor the repair?
  • PREVENTION

    Feed youngsters excess long stem forage to keep them occupied. Provide plenty of turnout and exercise to growing horses so that they are less likely to engage in these sorts of behaviors.
    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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