Regarding the new method to prevent cribbing, the American School of Equine Dentistry in Virginia discussed a new procedure which is in the testing phase.The concept is to surgically insert SEYMOUR PIG RINGS (Hill Pattern Pig Rings) between the inter-dental space of the 102/103 (lateral & corner maxilla incisors) and the 202/203 (lateral & corner maxilla incisors).
The mouth should be flushed first with Chlorhexidine/Water solution to remove all bacteria and silica. The superior maxilla arcade should be cleansed with a sanitary surgical cloth and Benzocaine 20% applied to the 2 identified areas of insertion.
The Benzocaine 20% is Rx and in some instances, a mild sedation may be administered to the patient as with any new procedure. This can be coordinated with the Veterinarian care taker of the horse.
Once the mouth is properly flushed, the gingiva cleansed, topical anesthetic applied medial and mesial in the oral cavity, using a SEYMOUR RINGER Model HM, a Hill Pattern Pig Ring No. H 1 is inserted between the inter dental space of both the 1 and 2 maxilla incisor laterals and corners with the bottom of the pig ring flush with the occlusal surface of the incisors.
Although the ring will pierce some soft gingival tissue between the laterals/corners it will not cause trauma or bleeding and the placement and closure should be tight and complete.
The inter-dental space has soft tissue similar to where humans floss and can be raised or pierced with minimal invasive concern. The rings should be palpated to ensure proper placement and secured sufficient to be retained for 2 weeks.
Due care must be exercised to ensure that the medial point of the ring does not "catch" the upper soft palate tissue in error. Also, palpation should also ensure that the base of the rings in the closed position should be resting on the incisors? occlusal surfaces.
The concept of this procedure is that the rings will not prevent "nipper" occlusion or interfere with mastication of feed or hay. There will be no discomfort or labial protrusion to cause ulceration or laceration if properly positioned.
The anti-cribbing effect comes into play when the patient attempts to utilize the superior incisors to press down with force to position the mouth to intake air. At this time, the significant pressure exerted by the patient in the cribbing process will now push the rings upward in the inter-dental space to the firm tissue covering the maxilla bone causing discomfort in the 2 incisor locations. Consequently, the patient will react by ceasing the cribbing pressure process. Normally, once the discomfort subsides, the patient will again attempt to crib resulting in a repeat of the discomfort sensation. Continual attempts resulting in discomfort will generate a behavioral change in the patient now associating the discomfort to the gingiva with the attempt to crib.
The rings should be checked in 2 weeks after insertion to ensure that minimal trauma has been noted in the areas. I personally replace the rings after 2 weeks and again reinsert in the inter-dental higher toward the firm gingival tissue covering the maxilla bone. The reason for this is that horses often learn to endure discomfort and often actually push into "pain".
Raising the position of the rings upward will continue a new sensation of discomfort helping to further alter behavioral vices.
Of the 10 cribbing patients that I have attempted to test this anti-cribbing methodology, one found a way to "hook" the rings and loosen them sufficiently to fall off. One has the rings in proper place and location and replaced after 2 weeks but is so addicted to the cribbing vice that he will endure the discomfort to obtain the "high" sensation. One was working perfectly, however, the owner sensed that her horse was "not happy" and requested me to remove the rings. The other 7 test cases have proved positive with the horses not cribbing. The 2-week checkup and replacement indicated absolutely no signs of inflammation, and the behavioral vice of cribbing ceased. In approximately 4-6 months the rings may be removed or replaced as the association of cribbing with discomfort will have broken the bad habit.
As this is still in test, a 70% positive result is good but not perfect. This procedure is delicate and should be attempted only by a schooled trained Equine Dentist, a Veterinarian, or licensed Veterinary Technician. As the use of Benzocaine 20% is a controlled substance obtainable via prescription and mild sedation may be coordinated with the attending Veterinarian, "floaters" and horse owners should not attempt this procedure as it can cause trauma and/or infection by improper placement or unsanitary conditions, instruments, and such. Also, the palatine artery is completely adjacent to the placement area and piercing of this artery will result in 2 hours of "drip bleeding" and probably require Veterinarian attention.
The cost of this procedure varies. I have seen the fee be as high as $175-$200 which is minimal when considering that horses who crib are more subject to colic, intestinal problems, and often foreign objects being imbedded in the gingiva.
My cost at this time while "testing" is only $75, for which the owner pays ONLY if the procedure is successful. My theory is that providing complete full mouth equine dental treatment for $125-$150 and having the procedure performed correctly which requires approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes per horse certainly is more beneficial than a $55.00 "floating" taking 7 minutes resulting in little or no relief to the patient.
It should be pointed out that horses under 10 years of age should be treated every 6 months. Over 10 years, annual treatment will normally suffice.
The anti-cribbing methodology in test mode can result in savings from colic calls etc. The full mouth dental procedure can result in the horse gaining substantial needed weight, less resistance to the bit, elimination of head shyness, stopping of feed dropping, improved performance, health, and conformation.
Dennis S. Chapman, Ph.D., EqDT.
STABLE 2 STABLE - Equine Dental Practice P.C.
(A Fully Insured Medical Malpractice Professional Corporation)