Dental health in piglets and its relation with piglet performance
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This study focused on the study of the occurrence of dental health problems and its relation with piglet performance. A dental investigation soon after euthanasia was performed in 180 Maxter x Hypor piglets, which were divided over 3 groups. The age of the piglets during the dental examination was 3.5, 6.5, and 7.5 weeks for group 1, group 2, and group 3, respectively. Dental examination included the eruption and occlusion of all the teeth, the severity of black pigmentation and plaque, and the presence of caries and gingivitis of the p3. Data on bodyweight (BW) and feed intake were collected at different time points during lifetime. Average daily weight gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADF), and feed efficiency (FE) were subsequently calculated. Eruption and occlusion were mainly age-dependent, as that piglets of group 1 were not having complete eruption and occlusion. A higher p2 was associated with higher BW and ADF for piglets from group 2 and 3. In addition, eruption of the i2 of piglets from group 2 was positively associated with ADF. Black pigmentation and plaque were found in all degrees. High severity of plaque was already found in the youngest piglets (group 1), whereas high severity of black pigmentation was not observed in those animals. Piglets from group 2 having a high severity of black pigmentation (>50%) had a lower ADG and FE. About 1/3 of the piglets from group 2 and 3 had also a red gingiva and blood upon probing. This was positively associated with BW and ADG for piglets from group 3 only. No caries were found in this study. The presence of various dental characteristics seems to play a role in piglet performance, as that associations were found. However, more research is needed for a better understanding of dental health problems in piglets and for its effect on the overall health in piglets.