Pets can benefit from orthodontics just as well as people, though pet orthodontics is not performed to improve their appearance. At Dallas Veterinary Dentistry & Oral Surgery, our veterinary dental specialists utilize orthodontics to relieve oral discomfort and improve a pet’s ability to function as normally as possible. Orthodontics may be necessary for dogs and cats that develop a misaligned bite (malocclusion) due to genetics or as a result of an injury or other issues. We can correct these issues with the help of bite evaluations, orthodontic appliances, and genetic counseling.
The Difference Between a Normal Bite and a Malocclusion
A pet with a normal bite or ‘tooth occlusion’ can eat and chew without discomfort. Their teeth close together comfortably. A pet with a misaligned bite has teeth that do not fit together comfortably when the mouth is closed. In some cases, a malocclusion can result in one or more teeth pressing into the gums or other soft tissues of the mouth. This, in turn, can cause damage and lead to infection.
There are various types of malocclusions that we see in pets, such as:
- Wry bite (can occur when one side of the jaw grows more than the other)
- Rotated teeth
- Rostral displacement of canines
While many malocclusions are caused by retained deciduous (primary) teeth, there could be other factors taking place. Therefore, radiographs are necessary for our specialists to make an accurate diagnosis and propose the right treatment.
When is Orthodontic Treatment Necessary?
We highly recommend orthodontic treatment when there is evidence of or potential for tissue trauma and when the patient has lost the ability to chew and eat comfortably. Following a thorough evaluation of your pet, we can propose treatment to correct their condition. This may include:
- Extraction – Tooth extractions are helpful in situations where retained teeth are forcing the adult teeth to erupt out of alignment, or if an adult tooth has erupted out of position and is impacting the palate.
- Crown reduction and vital pulp therapy – In some cases, the crown of a tooth can be shortened and capped to prevent it from striking the gums or palate.
- Orthodontic correction via an inclined plane – Inclined planes are fixed devices (acrylic or metal) that act as a ramp to guide teeth into the correct position. This treatment can take up to several weeks, after which the device is safely removed.
A pet's age and condition are major determining factors in their treatment. To consult with one of our specialists about the possibility of orthodontic treatment for your pet, please call (817) 431-8451.