Prevalence of dental disorders in degus and evaluation of diagnostic methods to determine dental disease and its prognosis

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Abstract

Degus (Octodon degus) are prone to develop dental disease with deleterious health effects. The two studies reported here aimed to determine the prevalence of dental disorders in degus and to identify and evaluate diagnostic tools for determination of prognosis of these disorders. In study A, health data from 225 degus at AAP, Rescue Center for Exotic Animals in the Netherlands, were collated and the prevalence of dental disorders and differences in sex and age at clinical onset of symptoms associated with dental disorders were described. The prevalence was 34.7 per cent and higher (P<0.01) in males than in females. The occurrence of cheek teeth malocclusion was highly positively (P<0.0001) correlated to mortality. In study B, 36 skulls were examined by macroscopic evaluation, radiography and histology. Additionally, the calcium:phosphorus (Ca:P) of mandibular bone in degus with and without dental disorders were determined. There was no significant (P=0.10) difference in Ca:P between the two groups. Quantifying mandibular apical cheek teeth elongation via macroscopic evaluation was highly correlated (P<0.01) to the results obtained via radiography. Examination for apical elongation by palpation and diagnostic imaging should be included in routine health monitoring of degus. Apical elongation appeared to develop before coronal elongation and when cheek teeth malocclusion occurred, prognosis for recovery of dental disease was poor.

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