Pet Orthodontic (Bite) Problems

pet orthodontic problems

Orthodontic problems are not unusual in dogs, but are fairly uncommon in cats. A malocclusion means that the jaws do not align properly. This problem may be purely cosmetic or can cause trauma to the lips, gums, palate, or teeth. 

By far, the most common cause of malocclusions is hereditary. Additional genetic causes include tongue size as well as lip and cheek tension.

Most affected dogs do not show any overt clinical signs other than the jaws or teeth being out of alignment. Depending on the type and severity of the malocclusion the off-set jaws may be causing pain and problems inside the mouth. This may present as bleeding, pain, gum swelling and/or disease, tooth death, and even nasal infection.

Therapy for malocclusions is dependent on type and severity of the disease process.

Treatment options for pet orthodontic problems include:

  • No therapy (if purely cosmetic).
  • Extraction of the offending tooth or teeth
  • Orthodontic correction using appliances
  • Lowering the problematic tooth and then protecting the root canal 
    • Coronal amputation and vital pulp therapy

For strictly cosmetic problems, it may not be recommended to pursue orthodontic treatment, as these techniques often involve multiple anesthetic procedures and associated pain. Certainly possible, however it may not be in the patient’s best interest. For these reasons, orthodontic therapy can be a disservice for an otherwise healthy patient.

Learn about veterinary orthodontic treatments.

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