PLoS One 2019 12;14(4):e0215401. Epub 2019 Apr 12.
Department of Biology, University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Germany.
The systematic analysis of museum collections can provide important insights into the dental and skeletal pathology of wild mammals. Here we present a previously unreported type of dental defect and related skull pathology in five juvenile Baltic grey seals that had been collected in the course of a seal culling program along the Danish coast in 1889 and 1890. All five skulls exhibited openings into the pulp cavities at the crown tips of all (four animals) or two (one animal) canines as well as several incisors and (in one animal) also some anterior premolars. The affected teeth showed wide pulp cavities and thin dentin. Pulp exposure had caused infection, inflammation, and finally necrosis of the pulp. As was evidenced by the extensive radiolucency around the roots of the affected teeth, the inflammation had extended from the pulp into the periapical space, leading to apical periodontitis with extensive bone resorption. Further spreading of the inflammation into the surrounding bone regions had then caused suppurative osteomyelitis of the jaws. The postcanine teeth of the pathological individuals typically had dentin of normal thickness and, except for one specimen, did not exhibit pulp exposure. The condition may have been caused by a late onset of secondary and tertiary dentin formation that led to pulp exposure in anterior teeth exposed to intense wear. Future investigations could address a possible genetic causation of the condition in the studied grey seals.