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Open Access Research

Caries in the infundibulum of the second upper premolar tooth in the horse

Torbjörn S Lundström1, Gunnar G Dahlén2 and Ove S Wattle1*

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7054, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Laboratory for Oral Microbiology, Faculty of Odontology, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg, Sweden

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2007, 49:10  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-49-10

Published: 28 March 2007

Abstract

Background

Swedish equine dental practices have empirically found that the prevalence of infundibular caries as a primary disorder in the first permanent premolar teeth (P2) of the horse upper jaw has increased during the last 10 years. A previously unknown bacterial species, Streptococcus devriesei (CCUG 47155T), which is related to Streptococcus mutans, has recently been isolated from these carious lesions. To understand the aetiology of caries in horses, it is essential to elucidate the relationship between S. devriesei and P2 infundibular caries.

Methods

The anterior infundibulum of maxillary P2, or the occlusal surface at the site of the infundibulum, in 117 horses and ponies, 77 with and 40 without caries in this tooth, was sampled for bacteriological analyses between 1990 and 2004. Samples were transported in VMGA III medium and then inoculated onto MSB agar. The approximate number of bacteria was counted in each sample and the isolates were characterised biochemically, using a commercial kit.

Results

All 50 samples taken from carious lesions after 2002 were positive for an S. mutans-like strain, i.e. S. devriesei. The bacteria were also found in four of the control animals, but were much less numerous than in samples from caries-affected horses. None of the swabs taken prior to 2002 were positive for this bacteria.

Conclusion

Our results demonstrate that S. devriesei can colonise the infundibulum of P2 of the horse upper jaw, which can be fatal for the dental tissue. We conclude that S. devriesei is strongly associated with P2 caries in horses.