Polyodontia in donkeys

Polyodontia is defined as the presence of teeth in excess of the normal dental formula. In equids, supernumerary teeth are uncommon but, when present, are usually located mainly in the caudal aspects of the cheek teeth rows (distomolars), also being found adjacent to normal cheek teeth or even in an ectopic location. It is believed that this disorder is a result of an inappropriate differentiation of dental germinal tissue during gestational development, with external trauma also acting as an initiating factor, when teeth germs are affected. The presence of these abnormal teeth can lead to axial displacement, dental overgrowths, dental-related soft tissue damage, diastemata formation, periodontal disease and development of secondary sinusitis. A large prospective, cross-sectional study was performed in 800 donkeys, with the aim to investigate the prevalence and aetiopathogenesis of clinically diagnosed oral and dental disorders. Polyodontia was recorded in 2.25% of the donkeys, presenting 36 supernumerary teeth, with 2.80% being incisors and 97.20% cheek teeth, with prevalence increasing with age. The caudal aspects of the maxillary cheek teeth rows were the most common locations for supernumerary teeth development (distomolars). The mandible was far less commonly affected than the maxilla. Although polyodontia is uncommon in donkeys, it should be considered in the differential diagnosis of dental disease. A methodical oral examination and a complete radiographic survey of the entire dental arcades are crucial for a correct early diagnosis and treatment plan implementation. The increasing prevalence of fully erupted supernumerary teeth recorded in older groups suggested a late onset eruption process, and therefore, in donkeys undergoing regular dental prophylaxis, the presence of previously unnoticed supernumerary teeth should always be sought.

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