Dimensions of diastemata and associated periodontal food pockets in donkey cheek teeth

Equine cheek teeth (CT) diastemata often cause deep periodontal food pocketing and are therefore regarded as a painful dental disorder of equidae. However there appears to be no information available on the size or shape of these diastemata. This post mortem study examined 16 donkey skulls (mean age = 32-years) containing 45 CT diastemata to define the anatomical shape and dimensions of these diastemata, and of the associated periodontal food pockets that occur with this disorder. Diastemata were found to more commonly involve mandibular (56.0%) compared with maxillary CT (44.0%), and 71.0% of these diastemata had adjacent intercurrent dental disorders that may have predisposed donkeys to the diastemata. The median widths of all diastemata were 2.0-mm at the occlusal surface and 3.1-mm at the gingival margin, with no diferences in widths between the lateral or medial aspects of diastemata. Diastemata were defined as open (60.00%) or valve (40.00%) based on their gross appearance. This classification was confirmed to be accurate by measurements that showed valve diastemata to have an occlusal to gingival width ratio of 0.4, in contrast to open diastemata where this ratio was 1.07. Food was impacted in 89.0% of diastemata, but all diastemata had adjacent periodontal disease. Periodontal food pocketing was present adjacent to 76.0% of diastemata, more commonly on the lateral aspect (73.0% prevalence; mean pocket depth = 4.1-mm) than the medial aspect (47.0% prevalence; mean pocket depth = 2.4-mm). The depth of periodontal pockets of diastemata was not associated with the height of the erupted crowns of adjacent CT.

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