Dental Corner: Canine orthodontics: Providing healthy occlusions
Jul 01, 2006
The idea of orthodontic correction for dogs frequently elicits snickers and causes uninformed eyes to roll. People often assume that orthodontic procedures are purely cosmetic and are reserved for show dogs. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the American Kennel Club does not permit dogs that have had their heritable oral anatomy altered to be shown in its conformation classes.
In people, orthodontic correction is used to treat abnormal occlusions and to improve aesthetics. In dogs, the goal of orthodontic treatment is to provide a healthy and functional occlusion—something to which every dog is entitled.
NORMAL OCCLUSION AND BREED STANDARDS
There are three skull types in dogs: dolichocephalic (long, narrow head; e.g. collies), mesocephalic (medium-proportioned head; e.g. German shepherds), and brachycephalic (short, wide head; e.g. pugs). Each of these types is predisposed to certain orthodontic problems. With so much variation in what is considered normal occlusion for a breed standard, it is important to focus on what is healthy for an individual patient.
One classification of malocclusion is based on the length of the maxilla in relation to the length of the mandible. A class I malocclusion is one in which one or more teeth are incorrectly aligned but the mandible-to-maxilla relationship is normal. A class II malocclusion—also termed an overbite, overshot, or, more accurately, overjet—occurs if the mandible is relatively shorter than the maxilla. A class III malocclusion—also termed an underbite, undershot, or, more accurately, underjet—occurs if the maxilla is shorter than the mandible.