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Dental Pathology of the Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata), Groundhog (Marmota monax) and Alaska Marmot (Marmota broweri).


Museum specimens (maxillae and mandibles) of the three marmot species occurring in Alaska (Marmota caligata [n = 108 specimens], Marmota monax [n = 30] and Marmota broweri [n = 24]) were examined macroscopically according to predefined criteria. There were 71 specimens (43.8%) from female animals, 69 (42.6%) from male animals and 22 (13.6%) from animals of unknown sex. The ages of animals ranged from neonatal to adult, with 121 young adults (74.4%) and 41 adults (25.3%) included, and 168 excluded from study due to neonatal/juvenile age or incompleteness of specimens (missing part of the dentition). None of the teeth were missing, so 3,564 teeth were available for examination. All teeth were normal in morphology and none was affected by enamel hypoplasia. Two specimens displayed two supernumerary teeth each. One-third of specimens displayed attrition/abrasion and in 38.9% of these the change involved all premolar and molar teeth. The proportion of adult specimens affected by attrition/abrasion was three times as high as young adult specimens. Dental fractures were rare, noted in only two specimens, affecting 0.08% of teeth (n = 3). Periapical disease was also rare, with a striking lesion in one young adult female specimen. Some degree of periodontitis was seen in 26 specimens (16.1%), affecting 4.6% of premolar and molar teeth. The proportion of adults with periodontitis was over three times as high as that for young adults. Five specimens displayed mild malocclusion. Although the clinical significance of dental pathology in the marmot species of Alaska remains elusive, the occurrence and severity of some dental lesions may play an important role in their morbidity and mortality.

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