Malocclusions

Overview

The word “malocclusion” refers to the misalignment of teeth between the top (maxillary) and lower (mandibular) dental arches of dogs. Although dental malocclusion may affect any dog of any breed, it is considered a highly prevalent disease in the world of purebred dogs.

Malocclusions can be broken down into four classes of infection. Those classes are:

  • Class I: The mandible and maxilla are of similar length in this kind of malocclusion, however one or more teeth are misplaced.
  • Class II: This occurs when the maxilla exceeds the mandible in length. This may happen unilaterally (on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides) (on both sides).
  • Class III: This is caused by the mandible being longer than the maxilla. This, like Class II malocclusions, may occur unilaterally or bilaterally. In brachycephalic breeds, this malocclusion is considered “natural.”
  • Class IV: In this kind of malocclusion, one side of the mandible is longer than the maxilla, while the other is shorter.

Individual tooth disparities (Class I) are regarded non-genetic, while jaw length problems (Class II, III, and IV) are considered hereditary.

Furthermore, there are certain Class I malocclusions that are more common in particular dog breeds (Shetland sheepdogs and standard poodles, for example). As a result, it is believed that these malocclusions are also hereditary.

The issue with malocclusions isn’t only that they’re ugly; misplaced teeth may also be uncomfortable. Trauma to the lips, palate, or gums may occur depending on the kind of malocclusion.

Symptoms and Identification

Malocclusions in UK dogs

Malocclusions in UK dogs is a condition affecting the teeth and gums

The majority of malocclusions in dogs are asymptomatic. Even though it’s obvious from their intraoral injuries that they’re in agony, many dogs don’t show any outward indications of discomfort. Some people, however, may have obvious oral bleeding. However, their owners may notice an unpleasant stench emanating from their lips.

Malocclusion is typically quite obvious to the naked eye of dog owners too. Simple observation, even at a very young age (before the adult teeth grow in), is usually sufficient in diagnosis.

However, in certain instances, a diagnosis of a malocclusion cannot be made firmly until the adult teeth are fully in position. Temporary paediatric malocclusions may disappear because the mandibular and maxillary bones develop at separate rates.

Affected Breeds

Breeds with the most pronounced differences in head shape from their proto-dog forefathers seem to be the most vulnerable to these. While dolicocephalic breeds (dogs with a relatively long skull) are also susceptible, brachycephalic breeds (short nosed or flat faced dogs) are the most severely impacted. Certain malocclusions are regarded “typical” for brachycephalic breeds, as previously stated above.

Dog breeds particularly at a higher percentage of risk are, but not limited to:

Treatment

Malocclusions, in most instances, do not need therapy. However, it may be required as a consequence of painful intraoral lesions caused by tooth misalignment. The following treatments may be suitable depending on the location of the trauma-inducing tooth injury:

  • Removal of the infringing deciduous (baby) tooth/teeth. The adult counterpart of this tooth may or may not cause a future issue.
  • Permanent (adult) tooth/teeth extraction
  • Orthodontic treatment to move the troublesome tooth/teeth.
  • Extraction of the problematic tooth/teeth. The crown of the tooth (the portion of the tooth above the gum line) may be excised in certain instances. This method is more complicated than it seems since the root must be carefully maintained throughout the procedure.

It should be noted that treatment is not advised only for aesthetic reasons. Indeed, engaging in any dental procedure only for cosmesis is widely seen as unethical.

Treatment Cost

The veterinarian cost of malocclusion is determined by the extent of therapy required. For example, if dental extraction is required, the costs will vary based on the age of the problematic tooth/teeth and the number of roots it carries. Prices for extractions typically vary widely from £250 to £1,750 in UK veterinarian surgeries.

Crown amputation and crucial pulp treatment, on the other hand, may be prohibitively costly since board-certified veterinary dentists are usually consulted. (Prices range between £2,000 and £3,000 per tooth.)

Orthodontics are equally, if not more, costly because to the numerous anaesthetic treatments needed.

Ongoing costs should be anticipated as well, considering that many malocclusion patients must be evaluated for changes in their dental alignment.

Furthermore, dogs who undergo critical pulp treatment will be obliged to have dental X-rays taken for the rest of their lives.

Prevention

Given that many breeds of dogs suffer from aberrant dental alignment by specification of their breed standard, avoiding malocclusion may be impossible in the context of a particular breed of dog.

Ideally, prevention entails modifying breed standards to allow for characteristics that reduce the likelihood of severe malocclusion, especially in brachycephalic breeds.

Further Reading

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