Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Malocclusion of Teeth?

When a dog's teeth do not properly align, misaligned teeth (malocclusion) could result in a dog choosing only to eat certain types of food (usually bigger chunks and ditching smaller portions altogether), discomfort, the inability to close its mouth, a noticeable overbite or an abnormal jaw growth. While puppy teeth (deciduous) are commonly linked to the reason for oral complications, there are other reasons, too.

A puppy, designated as such if it’s less than six months old, will have 28 baby teeth. When it reaches adulthood, the same canine will lose all of the “milk teeth” and have 42 adult teeth. Misalignment occurs when the puppy’s baby teeth set incorrectly and when the adult teeth follow and worsen the problem due to size and a hereditary link.

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Malocclusion of Teeth Average Cost

From 40 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

Sometimes called salmon jaw, two of the signs of a dog with teeth misalignment are either an overbite or a protruding lower jaw. The dog may also not be able to close its mouth or appear to always have the slightly open mouth of a fish.

Dogs with upper jaws that protrude over the lower jaw may take on the appearance of a parrot with the beak.

Other symptoms of a misaligned jaw include:

  • Food regularly falling from its mouth while chewing
  • Mixed dentition (puppy and adult teeth connected together or adult teeth not growing in)
Types

At approximately 10 months, a dog should have its full set of adult teeth. The ideal dog's teeth look like scissors once they've properly grown in, into a zigzag line.

There are several different types of malocclusion that may be diagnosed by the veterinarian; these include:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Level bite
  • Open bite
  • Anterior crossbite
  • Posterior crossbite
  • Wry mouth or bite
  • Base narrow canines

As mentioned above, a dogs bite will set at 10 months old. At this point, there is no chance that the improvement of malocclusions, such as an overbite or underbite, will happen on its own. Unbeknownst to some pet parents, there is a chance that your pets misalignment can worsen on its own. This is correlated to the fact that the permanent teeth are much larger than the baby, puppy, or “milk teeth.” When this happens your veterinarian will most likely suggest teeth extractions to make room for the incoming or already set teeth.

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Causes of Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

For some animals, the misalignment makes no difference and treatment is not required, especially if the teeth misalignment appears to be hereditary. For other animals that have misaligned teeth due to remaining deciduous teeth that just won't fall out, this is commonly why an overbite or jaw misalignment is usually a possibility. Tartar buildup and plaque from not brushing teeth may also lead to oral diseases and possible alignment problems.

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Diagnosis of Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

Opting out of dental radiographs (X-rays) can lead pet owners to miss approximately 75 percent of dog health issues, including oral diseases.

For teeth misalignment, the X-ray will confirm the state of teeth cleaning and possible remaining deciduous teeth. The X-ray will also be used to look for any signs of pus cavities under teeth due to oral infections, foreign objects, cysts, tumors and whether it's safe to assume that the misalignment is hereditary or not. While some cases may be more obvious than others, two-thirds of a dog's teeth are under the gums so they may not be viewable from first glance to a pet owner or even veterinarians.

Potential jaw fractures and signs of temporomandibular joints (TMJ) will also be looked at, the latter of which may also make it difficult for a dog to chew its food correctly or even open its mouth without experiencing pain.

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Treatment of Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

For dogs that have teeth misalignment but can bite, chew and swallow without any problems, there may be no need for treatment. In dogs that experience the teeth or jaw alignment due to genetics, not much can be done to "correct" it outside of neutering or spaying the animal so future puppies will not have the same problem.

However, for dogs that experience pain, the first resolution will more often than not be to remove deciduous teeth, which are notoriously linked to oral discomfort and diseases in dogs past the age of 10 months. Veterinarians will encourage pet owners to pay special attention to the pattern of their dog's teeth during the puppy stages to avoid long-lasting issues.

If a dog is experiencing unusual behavior (heavy gulping, salivation and constantly rubbing at its own face), it's in pain or, at least, irritated. If foreign objects are the cause, those will be removed immediately once an X-ray identifies it.

Braces may be necessary to save good teeth from being extracted unnecessarily, especially if missing teeth are leading to other oral complications. The size of the braces will heavily depend on the shape and the size of the dog’s mouth and face.

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Worried about the cost of Teeth Misalignment treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Malocclusion of Teeth in Dogs

Dogs who wear braces may first have to get used to chewing differently and not being able to eat hard, dry dog food. The dog will also have to give up any hard chewing toys, or it may risk a tooth fracture or braces coming out of alignment. Dog braces are worn for approximately six months to one year, but in extreme cases, it may take as long as two years to correct the teeth misalignment issues.

Dogs should recover from tooth extraction within a few weeks, but four- to six-week checkups are recommended at least two to four times a year, in addition to regular cleaning to make sure the dog's teeth continue to be healthy.

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Malocclusion of Teeth Average Cost

From 40 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$850

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Malocclusion of Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Standard Poodle

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Four Months

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9 found helpful

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9 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Tooth Protruding From Upper Gym, Bottom K9S Protruding Into Upper Gum

He has what appears to be a tooth protruding from his upper gums and seems to be pushed out to the side by his lower k9. Both lower k9s are protruding into his upper gums from below. Picture attached.

Aug. 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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9 Recommendations

Hello, Your dog's teeth do not look like they are in normal positions. Good thing is that these are the baby teeth and when the adult teeth come in they may be in the right spot. Your vet can remove the tooth that is in coming out in the gums. This will help your dog's mouth feel much better.

Aug. 16, 2020

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Yanni

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Bichon Frise

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12 Weeks

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3 found helpful

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3 found helpful

Has Symptoms

No Symptoms

My 12 week old Bichon Frise has an overbite and the vet told me that he should have his two lower baby canine teeth removed. I would like to get a second opinion. At what age should he get this surgery done? Also, the cost of the procedure will be over $600. Is this the average cost? Thank you

Aug. 13, 2018

Yanni's Owner

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3 Recommendations

You should get another opinion especially since Yani is so young, depending on the severity there may be some improvement as he grows; any price or details of the surgery are dependent on the case but you should see another Veterinarian for an examination to get their input. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 13, 2018

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Malocclusion of Teeth Average Cost

From 40 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$850

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