Dental dysplasia: pseudo-odontoma (elodontoma) in
Esther van Praag, Ph.D.
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The growth of benign masses such as pseudo-odontoma is rarely observed in rabbits. It is a
dysplastic disease in which odontogenic tissue - dental pulp, mesenchymal
cells, enamel, dentin, and cementum - is constantly deposited around the root
of maxillary incisors or cheek teeth. The dysplasia is generally
The development of
pseudo-odontoma is not well understood. It may be aging, but is more likely
related to an inflammatory process at the root level of rabbit teeth, or to
osteoporosis. When the roots of incisors are affected, it may relate to
traumatic damage caused by chewing on e.g., bars of a cage. Further causes in
rodent animals include viral agents or a diet deficient in nutrients or
vitamins. Indeed, the disease was observed in rats fed a diet deficient in
Clinical signs and
Early stages of
the disease are asymptomatic, without changes of the outer aspect of affected
teeth. It can, therefore, only be recognize on X-rays of the skull. In a later
stage, eruption of the teeth is impaired and modifications occur in the
dental pulp canal.
Chewing may become
difficult. Further clinical signs are anorexia, difficult swallowing,
gastro-intestinal problems and affected reluctance to exercise due to
Changes of the
maxillary incisor and cheek teeth roots and deformation of the maxillary bone
can lead to compression of the nasolachrymal duct, and will result in
overflow of tears (epiphora). Secondary upper respiratory difficulties are
uncommon, unless the space-occupying mass encroaches on the nasal cavity and
airways. The worsening obstruction of air passage is symptomized by shortness
of breath, and inspiratory paroxysmal respiration (“reverse sneezing”).
Radiography and CT scan help confirm the
Correction of the
problem is difficult. In an early stage, extraction of the affected
tooth/teeth may be attempted.
hypovitaminosis A has been linked to pseudo-odontoma in rats, a diet
correction may be attempted in early stages of the disease, by feeding fresh
food that is rich in vitamin A. Overdoses must be avoided; it may increase
an expansile disease that will invade surrounding tissues, therefore,
prognosis is guarded.
Thank you to Tal Saarony (USA) and to Dr.
Gil Stanzione (Dakota Veterinary Clinic, White Plains, NY, US) for the
permission to use these pictures.
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