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Malocclusions in Dogs

A malocclusion is an abnormal teeth alignment. They can become a problem in dogs, just as they can become a problem in humans. Today, our Rabun County vets discuss malocclusions on dogs, the different types, and what you can do to help.

What is malocclusion in dogs?

An adult dog has 42 permanent teeth divided into four different types:

  1. Incisors are the teeth located between the upper and lower jaws. They are used for grasping food and they help keep the tongue in the mouth.
  2. Canine teeth are located on the sides of the incisors and are used to grasp food and other objects. The lower canines help keep the tongue in the mouth.
  3. Premolars are located behind the canines in both the upper and lower jaws and shear or cut food.
  4. Molars are behind the premolars at the back of the mouth. They are used for grinding food to prepare it for swallowing.

Malocclusion is an abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth, which can lead to an uncomfortable bite.

What are the different types of malocclusion in dogs?

There are two types of malocclusion in dogs: skeletal and dental. Dental malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower jaw lengths are normal but one or more teeth are out of alignment. A skeletal malocclusion results when an abnormal jaw length creates a malalignment of the teeth.

Common Types of Skeletal Malocclusion

Mandibular Distoclusion or Class 2 Malocclusion (MAL2): Also known as an overbite, overjet, overshot, or mandibular brachygnathism. This occurs when the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw. When the mouth is closed, the lower jaw teeth do not occlude with their upper jaw counterparts. When compared to their counterparts in the lower jaws, the upper premolars are too far away from the nose.

Mandibular Mesioclusion or Class 3 Malocclusion (MAL3): Also known as an underbite, undershot, reverse scissor bite, or mandibular prognathism. This is a condition in which the lower jaw is too long in relation to the upper jaw and the lower teeth protrude in front of the corresponding upper teeth. If the jaw length difference is small, the upper and lower incisor teeth may meet edge to edge, resulting in an even or level bite.

Maxillomandibular Asymmetry: Upper and lower jaw asymmetry can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including rostrocaudal asymmetry (upper and/or lower), side-to-side asymmetry (upper and/or lower), and open bite (one or both sides). Side-to-side asymmetry is caused by a lack of centering of the upper and lower jaws over each other, whereas rostrocaudal asymmetry is caused by a length disparity between the right and left sides. An abnormal (increased) space between the upper and lower jaws causes an open bite.

Common Types of Dental Malocclusion

Rostral & Caudal Crossbites: Rosrtal crossbite occurs when the canine and premolar teeth on both sides of the mouth are aligned but one or more lower incisors are in front of the upper incisors when the mouth is closed. Caudal crossbite occurs when one or more lower cheek teeth are closer to the cheek than the opposing upper cheek teeth when the mouth is closed.

Linguoverted Mandibular Canines: This malocclusion is a condition in which the lower canine tooth is angled inward, resulting in traumatic contact between the linguoverted canine and the roof of the mouth. It can be treated using a variety of methods, including tooth movement, crown reduction, restoration, or extraction.

Mesioverted Maxillary Canines: This dental malocclusion can be inherited (as in Shelties) or acquired as a result of persistent deciduous teeth.

Is there treatment for malocclusion in dogs? 

There may be no need for treatment for dogs who have misaligned teeth but can bite, chew, and swallow normally. Outside of neutering or spaying the animal to prevent future puppies from having the same problem, there isn't much that can be done to "correct" the dog's teeth or jaw alignment due to genetics.

However, for dogs who are in pain, the first option is to remove deciduous teeth, which are notoriously linked to oral discomfort and diseases in dogs over the age of 10 months. To avoid long-term problems, veterinarians will advise pet owners to pay close attention to the pattern of their dog's teeth during the puppy stage.

Do you believe your dog is suffering from misaligned teeth? Contact our Rabun County veterinarians today to have them looked at by one of our experienced vets.

We Can't Wait To Meet You!

Rabun Animal Hospital is currently accepting new patients! Our wonderful veterinarians are dedicated to the health and happiness of Rabun County dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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