Malocclusion occurs when your dog's teeth aren't properly aligned. This can lead to several other conditions. In this post, our Fountain Valley vets discuss the causes and treatment of malocclusions in dogs.
Dogs & Malocclusions
The 42 teeth that are within your dog's mouth are broken up into 4 different sections.
- 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.
- 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.
- Premolars are located behind the canines in both the upper and lower jaws and shear or cut food.
- 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. This is also known as a dog scissor bite or an overbite in dogs.
Types of Malocclusion in Dogs
The two different types of malocclusion in dogs are dental malocclusion and skeletal malocclusion. 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.
The Main 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.
The Main 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.
Treating Malocclusions in Dogs
If your dog has malocclusion but can utilize their teeth and jaw just fine to eat, bark, and chew then you may not need to seek any treatment beyond having a dental examination for diagnosis. Commonly, there isn't much that can be done to "correct" the dog's teeth or jaw alignment due to genetics.
It's a different story if the malocclusion is causing pain though. If this is the case then your vet will likely recommend the removal of the deciduous teeth. These teeth commonly cause issues for dogs. By monitoring the growth of your puppy's teeth and jaw while they are young you can help to avoid potential issues in the future.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.