Orthodontics is the area of dentistry concerned with moving the growing teeth into the correct place and the correction of the mature dentofacial structure.
Orthodontic Treatment and Bite Evaluation in Dogs
Puppies have 28 teeth and adult dogs normally have 42 teeth. It is very important to monitor the transition from the primary (baby) dentition to the secondary (adult) dentition. During this transition period, the dentition is called a “mixed dentition”.
Abnormal bites (malocclusions) can develop as a result of failure or slow exfoliation (loss) of the primary teeth or failure or slow eruption of the secondary teeth. Abnormalities of this transition from the primary to the secondary teeth can result in minor or major malocclusions that may be potentially painful for these dogs. The primary teeth need to be removed immediately in an attempt to avoid the development of malocclusions! To perform these procedures appropriately, dental radiographs are required.
Orthodontic Treatment and Bite Evaluation in Cats
Kittens normally have 26 teeth and adult cats have 30 teeth. The transition from the primary (baby) teeth to the secondary (adult) teeth is quicker in cats than in dogs. Our clinical experience of malocclusions is significantly lower in cats than in dogs however malocclusions do occur in cats. These abnormal occlusions (bites) can result in problems for cats. Teeth hitting teeth or soft tissue can be uncomfortable.
What is a normal bite in a dog or cat?
The bite is right when it is normal. The “scissors bite” refers to the normal relationship between the upper and lower teeth. This is also called the normal occlusion. The upper incisors overlap the lower incisors when the mouth is closed. The lower canine teeth fit in between the upper third incisor and the upper canine without touching either of them with the mouth closed. In viewing the teeth from the side with the mouth closed, the premolar teeth of the upper and lower dental arcades interdigitate very much like the teeth of “sheer scissors”.
Additionally; the upper fourth premolar tooth, overlaps the lower first molar tooth. These teeth function to tear food apart when chewing. These teeth are frequently referred to as a carnassial teeth and are often injured (fractured) when very hard objects are chewed by dogs. We recommend prevention of chewing hard objects in an attempt to avoid fractured teeth.
Malocclusions are variations of the bite from the above described normal scissors bite. Malocclusions are classified based on dental relationships.