Malocclusion refers to abnormal tooth alignment. The most common malocclusions seen in veterinary medicine are:
- Overbite – maxilla is longer than the mandible. This bite is never considered normal in any breed and is considered a genetic fault.
- Under bite – the maxilla is shorter than the mandible. Some short muzzled breeds normally have an under bite.
- Wry bite – when one side of the jaw grows more than the other. This may lead to abnormal wear or even penetration of the palate or mandible.
- Base narrow canines – mandibular canines protrude inward and contact the palate. May lead to infection or even penetration of the palate. Potentially very painful.
- Rotated teeth – occurs in short muzzled breeds, common in the maxillary premolars. If boney support is inadequate, may lead to infection and periodontal disease.
- Rostral displacement of canines – upper canines teeth point towards the nose instead of down or upward. Commonly called lance or spear canines.
All of these conditions can cause damage to your pet’s teeth, injury to the palate or mandible, resulting in chronic pain and or infection.
Detected early, interceptive orthodontics may include:
Extraction of deciduous teeth. This oral surgery may allow normal jaw growth and the possibility that the permanent teeth will erupt in a normal occlusion.
- Crown reduction (reducing the height of a tooth) – prevents penetration of a maloccluded tooth into the palate or the mandible. This procedure can also reduce attrition or abnormal wear when teeth are rubbing on other teeth.
- Orthodontic movement of teeth by wires and elastics, similar to orthodontics performed in humans.
The digital x-ray to the right shows the permanent teeth located to the inside of the deciduous teeth. Oral surgery extraction of the deciduous teeth may allow normal eruption of the permanent teeth, thus correcting the malocclusion.
Thus, with early detection and treatment you can protect your precious friend from lifelong discomfort and infection caused by genetic and dental malocclusion.