Veterinary orthodontics may be needed when the teeth, the jaws or the TMJ are misaligned.

Animal Dental Clinic: ortho-home

Normal occlusion means that mandibular teeth interlock with maxillary teeth. The jaws are connected at the temporomandibular joint.

The cause of malocclusion can be the misplacement of the teeth in the jaws, the jaws themselves, or the temporomandibular joint; it may be congenital or acquired. Regardless of the cause, malocclusion can contribute to pain and loss of function ranging from mild to debilitating.

At Animal Dental Clinic, orthodontic treatments are common, and are aimed at restoring function and alleviating pain.


Diagnosis of malocclusion

Animal Dental Clinic: radiographing-the-oronasal-fistula
Dental radiograph showing loss of the bone of the hard palate that separates the oral and nasal cavities (left side). The right side of the image is normal, for comparison.

Gathering detailed information allows for development of the right plan.

Oral examination is helpful to gain preliminary information, but more thorough oral diagnostics including dental radiographs, probing and charting, are needed to plan orthodontic treatment. For malocclusion caused by the misalignment of the temporomandibular joint, advanced imaging may be recommended to more completely evaluate the malocclusion.

Consequences of malocclusion

Animal Dental Clinic: exploring-the-oronasal-fistula-caused-by-malocclusion
Periodontal probe inserted into the oronasal fistula caused by the sharp mandibular canine tooth contacting the hard palate (roof of the mouth) when the mouth is closed. This communication between the mouth and nose is not normal and causes inflammation of the nasal cavity and sneezing when food and water enter the nose.

Malocclusion can have serious consequences.

Mild malocclusions can cause a variety of other outcomes, from tooth attrition and its associated discomfort to the creation of areas that promote other oral disease, like periodontitis.

More significant malocclusions have the potential to cause serious oral trauma, even to the point where mandibular teeth penetrate the palate. The result of this is called an oro-nasal fistula, which is a communication between the mouth and the nasal cavity.

There are several potential approaches to solve these problems. Animal Dental Clinic can assess a patient, determine the severity and cause of the problem, and propose a treatment plan to restore a pet’s oral function and alleviate painful conditions.

Orthodontic treatment

Animal Dental Clinic: orthodontic-active-movement
In this patient, the permanent maxillary canine teeth were mesioverted (pointed too far forward) because persistent deciduous (baby) teeth kept them from occupying their normal position. Here, the persistent deciduous canine tooth has just been surgically extracted (the site is closed with sutures), and the active movement plan has begun.

In animals, treatment of malocclusion should prevent further trauma and improve oral function.

If malocclusion causes pain or oral trauma, it should receive treatment. Depending on type and severity of malocclusion, a variety of orthodontic treatments may be employed to reposition teeth. Crown reduction followed by endodontic treatment to reshape teeth or even extractions in selective cases are other options that can be used to restore comfort and function for patients with malocclusion.