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TITLE: Tooth Troubles for Simon, the Donkey
On April 5th, our donkey, Simon, marched up to me declaring he had some sort of an issue going on. He lifted his lip making it clear the problem was in his mouth. Kenny wasn’t home and without his assistance I wasn’t able to get a complete look inside of Simon’s mouth but did see a lot of hay and grass packed around his front teeth. Upon Kenny’s return, we haltered Simon and tried to flush his mouth with the hose as best we could. When I got a good look at the injury, I almost fell to my knees…
Simon had pulled his two right top incisors forward by a quarter of an inch and had a huge gash in his top gum, front and back. We immediately called our Certified Equine Dentist who was unfortunately out of state. He explained that in most cases he had seen and/ or researched, the teeth could not be saved and it was best to just pull them out. Although I have the utmost respect for his expertise, training, and experience, I was not willing to give up on saving those teeth!
Although it would not be the end of the world, pulling them would make grazing much harder and Simon would require very frequent dental sessions to keep the lower incisors in balance. A horse’s teeth continue to erupt until they are between 20 and 25 years of age, depending on prior dental care. This extra tooth length is stored in deep pockets within the jaw and erupts to the point of occlusion. In other words, the tooth will erupt until it hits another surface, usually another tooth. Herein lies a problem; if a tooth is missing, damaged, or incorrectly worn, the opposing tooth will erupt too far (remember, there’s nothing to stop it) which interferes with proper chewing, affects wear and balance of all the other teeth, inhibits motion of the jaw and TMJ, and gets worse and worse.
We made an appointment with the local equine veterinarian and he came out the next morning. Simon was sedated and x-rays were taken. Although it was good news that the teeth and roots were in good shape, he did have a fracture in the underlying Maxilla bone. Dr. Nolte suggested wire be applied to help stabilize the two teeth in an attempt to save them. Normally, the wire would be placed between the teeth and anchored to a back molar. Unfortunately, Simon’s teeth were spaced too tightly together; Dr. Nolte could not fit the wire between the teeth. Instead, he had to cross over the gum to fit the braces. See photo #3. Simon’s prognosis was questionable.
A Holistic Approach to Healing
We were advised to only feed soaked hay pellets for the next eight weeks to try to cut down on the amount of feedstuff that could get stuck in the braces. However, since our equines have access to pasture and supplemental hay 24/7, feeding only soaked pellets was not really an option. Dr. Nolte also recommended we give oral antibiotics for 7 days. Although I did take them, we decided not to give them unless we saw any evidence of infection (which never happened). Simon was also given a tetanus booster (since we give tetanus boosters every 5-7 years and he was due anyway, we felt this was acceptable).
For the pain and inflammation, we started Simon on BTB Plus (a liquid devil’s claw solution) from Emerald Valley Equine. This product is something we always have on hand as it is very effective but lacks the side effects of a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drug. We also bumped up his daily dose of vitamin C powder to help boost his immune system and help with the inflammation.
On the advice of Char Raby (author of the At Home with Homeopathy and Farm Materica Medica sections in this issue) and Jessica Lynn from Earth Song Ranch, we started Simon on a homeopathic regimen. This included Arnica (for trauma), Hypericum (for nerve damage), and Symphytum (for the bone fracture), all in 200c potency and given twice daily, alternating between remedies. We used this regimen for one week.
An In-between Checkup
On April 26th we had Dr. Nolte out for a checkup to get his opinion on Simon’s progress. He was pleasantly surprised and said, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” I love when I hear this from a conventional vet!
Simon’s Braces Come Off
On May 17th, 6 weeks after the injury, Dr. Nolte came out to remove the braces. Simon was actually pretty cooperative and did not need to be sedated. Unfortunately, the wire had imbedded a bit into the gum, but that will heal pretty quickly. Dr Nolte said the teeth felt pretty stable, so that is a good sign. There is a concern of bone remodeling, so we will dose Simon with homeopathic Symphytum 30c once a day for a week.
Of course, I’m sure you are asking how Simon had injured himself like this. The best we can figure is he had his mouth on a corral panel, spooked and forgot to open his mouth.
At this point, we are very optimistic that his injury will heal completely, but only time will tell. Nonetheless, we are thankful for the holistic modalities that supported and assisted Simon in his healing.
About the author:
Lisa Ross-Williams is a natural horse care consultant and host of the If Your Horse Could Talk webcast available at www.naturalhorsetalk.com. She has completed the Basic Veterinary Homeopathy course through the British Institute of Homeopathy, holds a degree in Environmental Plant Science, and is an Equine Iridology Technician. Lisa is the Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of Natural Horse Magazine and the author of the award winning book, Down-To-Earth Natural Horse Care available at www.down-to-earthnhc.com.
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