What are Interceptive Orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics involves extracting certain deciduous, or “baby”, teeth in puppies that have dental defects. The treatment is called interceptive orthodontics because the aim of this treatment is to resolve dental problems before they cause serious pain or additional complications. Interceptive orthodontics allows the teeth and jaws to grow as they normally would. This procedure is typically the first line of treatment for dental defects in puppies. It may be recommended in addition to other treatments.

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Interceptive Orthodontics Procedure in Dogs

  1. Prior to tooth extraction, blood work will be taken to ensure it is safe for the puppy to undergo anesthesia.
  2. The puppy is then anesthetized.
  3. X-rays of the teeth will be taken prior to extraction to determine which teeth need to be removed.
  4. The dental surgeon will then carefully extract the teeth, taking care not to damage the roots of the permanent teeth.
  5. Another x-ray will be taken to ensure the entire tooth was removed and no damage to the roots of the permanent tooth has occurred.

Efficacy of Interceptive Orthodontics in Dogs

Interceptive orthodontics is considered very effective for correcting dental defects. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and treated, the more successful it is in relieving pain and restoring normal jaw and tooth growth. Ideally, this condition should be diagnosed when the puppy is between six and nine weeks of age. 

Interceptive orthodontics is less effective in dogs older than four months, or after the permanent teeth start to grow. For these cases, alternative therapies are recommended. Perhaps one of the most effective alternative therapies is the use of an acrylic inclined plane. This involves using a fitted acrylic plate to shift the erupted permanent tooth into its normal position. If this is unsuitable, the tooth may be filed down so that it no longer grows into the palate.

Interceptive Orthodontics Recovery in Dogs

The puppy will be allowed to go home the same day as treatment. Analgesics are prescribed to manage pain, and antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent infection. It takes approximately six to eight weeks for gums to fully heal. During this time, the puppy should be given soft foods. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for one to two weeks after the procedure to ensure no further problems have developed. The permanent teeth should grow normally after interceptive orthodontics. If the puppy is still experiencing significant pain or discomfort after the extraction, or if the permanent teeth are growing abnormally, the owner should consult their veterinarian immediately.

Cost of Interceptive Orthodontics in Dogs

The cost of interceptive orthodontics will depend on standards of living, additional costs incurred, and the type and extent of the defect. On average, the cost of interceptive orthodontics ranges from $500 to $1,000.

Dog Interceptive Orthodontics Considerations

Complications with interceptive orthodontics are few. The main risk associated with interceptive orthodontics is damaging the roots of the permanent tooth that has yet to erupt. This could cause future problems with the permanent tooth. In some cases, resolving root damage will require a second extraction procedure or additional therapies. Another potential complication of interceptive orthodontics is allergic reaction to anesthesia.

Interceptive Orthodontics Prevention in Dogs

Puppy owners should monitor the teeth as the puppy grows. Immediate veterinary attention should be sought as soon as the owner notices any problems. Since it is a primarily genetic condition, puppies and dogs that are diagnosed with and treated for malocclusion should not be bred. Many veterinarians advise that dogs with this condition should be spayed or neutered. Daily dental care is imperative. Owners should also ensure they provide adequate dental care for their dogs and brush their teeth each day.