Overbites and Underbites in Dogs and Cats

Did you know that cats and dogs can have underbites and overbites, just like humans? An abnormal bite can inhibit your pet’s oral functions, cause them pain, and make them vulnerable to dental diseases. Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery can help treat malocclusions in pets—read on to learn more about how to recognize an overbite or underbite in your pet.

Basic Anatomy of a Pet’s Mouth

The four quadrants of a pet’s mouth include the left maxilla (upper jaw), right maxilla, left mandible (lower jaw), and right mandible. Each quadrant contains incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. In a normal mouth, the left and right side mirror each other. Dogs’ mouths contain a total of 42 adult teeth, while cats have 30 adult teeth. 

Understanding Malocclusions in Pets

The relationship between the teeth of the upper jaw and the teeth of the lower jaw is called the “occlusion”. When the upper and lower jaw meet abnormally, as in the case of an underbite or overbite, we call it a malocclusion. Besides causing pain and difficulty when eating, underbites and overbites can also predispose pets to periodontal disease and oral trauma

Malocclusions can be classified as one of four types: 

Class I Malocclusion

In a class I malocclusion, one or more teeth are in an abnormal position. However, the maxilla and mandibles remain in a normal length relationship with each other. A tooth which is classified as a class I tooth may either be rotated or pointing in the wrong direction. 

Class II Malocclusion 

Class II malocclusions are overbites in dogs and cats. This is where the mandible is shorter in relation to the usual relationship with the maxilla. 

Class III Malocclusion

Class III malocclusions are underbites in dogs and cats. In a class III malocclusion, the mandible is longer than their usual relationship with the maxilla. This category of malocclusions is often seen in brachycephalic dogs, such as boxers, pugs, and boston terriers. 

Class IV Malocclusion 

Asymmetrical development of the maxilla or mandibles leads to class IV malocclusions. This malocclusion can result in skeletal deformities and malformations, which can lead to a side-to-side misalignment.

Underbites and Overbites in Cats

Cats do not get malocclusions nearly as frequently as dogs. However, this does not mean that they are free from the problem completely. Malocclusions in felines tend to be more severe and cause more problems. In cats, underbites and overbites usually get diagnosed when they are kittens. Certain breeds like Persian and Himalayan cats tend to have underbites more frequently than other cat breeds. 

Veterinary Dentist in Bozeman

If you suspect your pet has an abnormal bite, you should take them to see a veterinary dentist. While it can be difficult to correct skeletal abnormalities, it is possible to permanently relieve the pain caused by malocclusions in pets. Visit our website or give us a call today to schedule an appointment at our Bozeman office with Dr. Tony Woodward, Montana’s only board-certified veterinary dentist. 

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