How to Treat Tooth Abscesses in Alpacas

Alpacas are tough, hardy animals and are not usually ailed by much; but tooth abscesses can be a common source of discomfort in alpacas.

What is a tooth abscess?

A tooth root abscess is a condition where pus forms inside the teeth, gums or bone of the jaw due to a bacterial infection.

How do tooth abscesses occur?

Tooth root abscesses typically occur when new teeth are coming through (which can occur between 6 months and 4 years of age) or when a tooth/jaw fractures. These instances often create an entry point for bacteria that is responsible for causing an infection in the tooth. It may also be due to the difference in food they receive here in Europe which can be rough and sharp, causing abrasion of the mouth tissues and/or wearing of the teeth, which can be an invitation for bacteria.

Which teeth are likely to be affected?

According to the 2007 Retrospective Study of Camelid Tooth Abscesses, mandibular teeth (teeth of the lower jaw) are 15x more likely than maxillary teeth (teeth of the upper jaw) to be affected. Cheek teeth are 14x more likely to be affected than incisors or canines.

What does a tooth abscess look like?

You may notice your alpaca struggling to eat, dropping food from the one side of their mouth or not eating at all and losing weight. These can all be indicators of pain resulting from an abscess. An abscess may be noticeable as a hard bony lump on the jaw, which is not easy to spot when they are in full fleece; therefore, it is a good idea to regularly check the jawline when handling your alpacas.

How to treat tooth abscess in alpacas

We recommend consulting with your vet to administer antibiotics, which will help remove any infection that may be present. Your vet may recommend x-ray imaging and possible surgical removal of the tooth. Most abscesses will trigger a reaction by the body which surrounds the abscess in calcified bone, which may leave a visible/palpable bulge. Luckily, abscesses are otherwise unharmful to the alpaca who can continue daily life as normal, without further intervention - providing they can happily eat. We recommend noting such conditions on your alpaca’s health records and monitoring the size, formation and any other signs during each health check to keep an eye on the affected area.

Other tooth issues that affect alpacas

As well as tooth root abscesses, alpacas are known to be affected by fractures of the teeth, uneven, worn or overgrown teeth, retained baby teeth and malocclusion (bad bite formation, whether that be overcrowded/overbite/underbite/crossbite/open bite).

Disclaimer: We are not a veterinarian body. Please consult your vet before administering medication to your herd.

Click here to discover more about us and our alpaca family. You can also stay with our herd at Hush Hush Glamping – click here to find out more!

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