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Georgia Journal of Science

Abstract

The frequency of dental and mandibular anomalies in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the southeastern United States is not well documented. Characteristic irregularities include supernumerary and missing teeth, malocclusion, root abscesses due to bacterial infections, and tooth or bone damage due to trauma. In the present study, we examined 778 white-tailed deer dentaries collected from the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in central Georgia. All dentaries were inspected for lesions, tooth irregularities, developmental anomalies, and other pathologies. Thirty-two dentaries (4.1%) displayed signs of dental or bone abnormalities. More abnormalities were associated with infection or injury (22/778, 2.8%) compared to unusual tooth development (11/778, 1.4%). One specimen exhibited both types. Abnormalities included tooth or bone damage associated with root abscesses (1.2%), secondary bone deposition or mandibular tubular perforations not associated with abscesses (1.2%), tooth misalignment (1.0%), missing or broken teeth (0.5%), an extra tooth (0.1%), and a deciduous root fragment embedded in the bone between two permanent teeth (0.1%). The frequency of occurrence of abnormalities in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge sample is similar to that previously recorded for white-tailed deer in the north-central and northeastern United States.

Acknowledgements

We thank Brandi Morris for her collection of the 2001 sample, and Carolyn Johnson and the rest of the staff at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge for their assistance in obtaining the mandibles from the hunter check station. Heidi Mead, Parker Rhinehart, Christina Barrows, Kori Ogletree, George Gavrielides, Matthew Kuhn, and Dennis Parmley also assisted with field collections. Dennis Parmley, Heidi Mead, and Melony Mead provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

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