Dental pathology in dolphins (Cetacea: Delphinidae) from the southern coast of Brazil

  • Loch C
  • Grando L
  • Kieser J
 et al. 
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Pathological processes observed in the stomatognathic systems of mammalian species are a useful source of information about the habits, evolution and general health of such animals. Studies of pathological conditions on teeth are common in humans and other primates, but rare in wild animals in general and marine mammals in particular. For cetaceans, previous studies provided scanty records of dental anomalies in a few species. This is the first broad and systematic inventory of dental pathology in dolphins. Specimens stored at scientific collections from the southern coast of Brazil were visually inspected under a stereoscopic microscope using a dental explorer. Diagnosis of lesions and anomalies followed literature descriptions. Abnormalities such as caries-like lesions, mineralized calculus deposits, dental erosion, enamel anomalies (hypoplasia and exogenous pigmentation), root resorption, germination and other shape anomalies, were diagnosed in the delphinids Sotalia guianensis, Delphinus capensis, Stenella frontalis, Stenella coeruleoalba, Lagenodelphis hosei, Pseudorca crassidens, Orcinus orca, Steno bredanensis and Tursiops truncatus. Endogenous causes may be related to the occurrence of certain conditions, but the aetiology of caries-like lesions and calculus accumulation is still unknown for cetaceans. The diagnosis of alveolar anomalies and other bone lesions in specimens with dental pathology lead us to believe these lesions modify the integrity of the periodontal ligament and bony tissues, adding to the burden of morbidity of affected animals.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Caries-like lesions
  • Dental calculus
  • Erosion
  • Geminated teeth
  • Marine mammals

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  • Carolina Loch

  • Liliane J. Grando

  • Jules A. Kieser

  • Paulo C. Simões-Lopes

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