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Can I Have My Dog’s Canine Underbite Corrected?

Canine Underbite 74153994 - veterinarian checks teeth to a dog - animal and pet veterinary care concept

“My dog has a severe canine underbite. He’s only a puppy, and he can eat okay, but it’s very messy and takes him a while. Is there something that can be done for him, or will he just always be a slow, messy eater? I worry that he isn’t getting enough to eat. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain, but he looks really weird.”  – Bobbi, New Jersey

“You don’t mention what is your puppy’s breed.  Canine underbite is a common genetic issue with many of the brachycephalic breeds (Boxers, Pugs, English Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus as examples).  An underbite is a situation where the teeth on the lower jaw, or mandible, protrude in front of the teeth on the upper jaw (maxilla).  Because it is genetic in origin for most dogs, the trait can be passed down to future generations.  In some pets, the cause is not genetic, but from previous jaw trauma.  The trauma results in a change in the normal growth of the jaw and a malocclusion.”

Canine Underbite Doesn’t Always Have to be Corrected

Not every dog with canine underbite needs treatment. This bulldog's teeth are considered normal for the breed.

Not every dog with canine underbite needs treatment. This bulldog’s teeth are considered normal for the breed.

” Even though you stated your dog has a severe underbite, it may actually be normal.  A normal bite occurs when the teeth have perfect interdigitation between teeth.  When the teeth don’t meet appropriately, the dog is more likely to develop pain or chronic dental disease.  This can include abnormal wear of the teeth or damage to lips or gums.  Even in some cases a tooth from the bottom jaw creating a hole in the roof of the mouth.”

Canine Braces May Be Necessary for Severe Underbite

“Unfortunately, if it is needed, there may be no simple, magic fix for your dog’s canine underbite.  For adult dogs the primary treatment could be simple teeth extractions or filing down one or more teeth.  Because the jaw of a puppy is still growing, other options may be available.  In addition to extraction options, braces may be an option.  Just as braces can be used to adjust teeth placement in children, this same technique can be used in animals.  Veterinary dentists have been utilizing braces since the 1980’s.  However, braces are not used for cosmetic reasons in veterinary dentistry.  There are only used to correct a medical problem.  Once the veterinarian determines your dog may need braces, they must also decide whether your pet is healthy enough for the procedure.  Braces require general anesthesia for radiographs (x-rays) and placement of the braces.  Additional anesthetic procedures may be required for adjustment or removal of the braces.  In between anesthetic episodes, your pet may need rechecks where the mouth is examined without sedation.  Obviously, a behaved pet makes this much easier.  So, behavior may be one more factor in the decision to use braces.”

No Chew Toys

“Once braces are placed you will have to help care for them at home.  This means brushing their teeth!  And of course, no chew toys, no tug of war, and no stick playing.  Remember, you don’t want to go through the time and expense of correcting canine underbite twice.  As you can see, there is a lot to digest here.  I recommend you see your veterinarian about the problem.  They can help you make decisions or refer you to a veterinary dentist as needed.  Veterinary dentistry is its own specialty and you can find more information on their website https://www.avdc.org/

To learn more about Dr. Kevin Winkler, visit our Contributors page under the “About” tab at the top of this page.

 


28 Comments

  1. Lola The Rescued Cat

    January 5, 2018 6:59 pm

    I never thought of fixing a dog’s underbite, and I didn’t realize it could cause problems. It makes sense, though. Now that Lola has no upper canines I have to watch to be sure her bottoms don’t irritate her top lip.

  2. Anita Aurit

    January 5, 2018 8:02 pm

    What an interesting article. Tooth problems are serious whether with canines or felines. (two of ours have already had some teeth extractions) I never realized there were canine braces.
    Anita, the General Lackey and Purrsonal Assistant for the Tribe of Five

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:50 pm

      Anita, the veterinarian I spoke to worked on dogs, so I’m not sure whether there are feline braces available, but I would think that a veterinary dentist could work on cats if need be. I’ll have to check into that! I hope the tribe doesn’t need any more extractions in the future!

  3. Tenacious Little Terrier

    January 5, 2018 9:28 pm

    I’ve heard of dog braces but have never actually seen them in real life. It’s a good idea for dogs that really need them. Teeth problems can be miserable!

    • Lori

      January 5, 2018 11:38 pm

      I agree! And I’m glad that pet orthodontists are very clear about what they will and won’t do. It is not considered a cosmetic procedure; it’s only for dogs who have serious health or eating problems to cope with.

  4. Heather Wallace, Bridle & Bone

    January 5, 2018 11:32 pm

    I never before realized that there were braces for dogs! I mean, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. But what will they think of next?

    • Lori

      January 5, 2018 11:37 pm

      I was surprised, too! I doubt my parents would have put them on our family dog, though, after paying for braces for three kids. I believe pet dentists began using braces in the 1980’s, so it’s a relatively new phenomenon.

  5. Molly

    January 6, 2018 1:01 pm

    I’ve never heard of dog braces, quite the cool concept for those dogs who need it. I appreciate that you start the article by questioning the breed of the dog since so many have “natural” underbites due to years of breeding for it. Tooth problems can be awful, but worrying about ones that aren’t a problem is even worse!

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:43 pm

      You’re right, and we should never want our pets to undergo a procedure that isn’t necessary for their health and well-being.

  6. Clare M/N Reece-Glore

    January 6, 2018 5:25 pm

    Really interesting info here; I had never heard of pet braces but it makes sense although you would have to be really watchful with them, I think.

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:46 pm

      I agree with you, Clare. Keeping an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t play with tugging toys or have any crunchy or sticky treats would be almost a full-time job.

  7. Chirpy Cats

    January 6, 2018 8:47 pm

    Wow, doggie braces! just as well our pets cannot talk, then Dexter would be nagging to have Invisalign! But jokes aside, dental issues in pets seems to be a huge topic. About half our vet visits for our cats involve dental problems be it, extractions, early signs of gums disease or eating problems associated with teeth.

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:33 pm

      According to my veterinarian, about half of the money spent on vet bills over a lifetime go toward dental issues of some kind. It makes it even more important to brush our pets’ teeth on a regular basis!

  8. Cathy Armato

    January 6, 2018 9:55 pm

    This is so fascinating, I never even knew braces for dogs even existed! Thanks for sharing this, I’m sure it will help quite a few people.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  9. Beth

    January 6, 2018 10:26 pm

    Health options for dogs have come such a long ways since my childhood. I’m glad that braces are available for dogs for medical reasons, but I’m also relieved that they won’t be used for cosmetic reasons.

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:29 pm

      I agree – I would hate for a pet owner to demand braces for their pet based on the quality of his smile. But for animals who really have difficulty eating or breathing, it’s definitely an option.

  10. Kristin Rosenbach

    January 6, 2018 11:35 pm

    Really interesting. I hadn’t heard of braces until now. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Kitty Cat Chronicles

    January 7, 2018 12:24 am

    I had no idea that dogs could get braces! You learn something new every day 🙂 I’m glad to hear that in a lot of cases though, an underbite is not cause for concern.

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:26 pm

      I would think that it has to be pretty severe before they would try braces on a dog. Can you imagine what she might be thinking when she woke up with all that metal in her mouth?

  12. Paroma Chakravarty

    January 7, 2018 8:01 am

    I did not know that underbites could be this problematic sometimes, ouch! Not playing with chew toys or having to get corrective braces is no fun either, but good to know that there are at least options to help alleviate pain in dogs with severe underbites.

    • Lori

      January 7, 2018 2:24 pm

      I didn’t know about braces for pets until recently myself. I’m fortunate that it isn’t a necessity for my dog; the hardest part would be not letting him chew or play tug-of-war!

  13. Jana Rade

    January 7, 2018 5:38 pm

    Every time something is out of place it causes trouble. I can see how underbite would do the same thing. And I’m not even talking about the state of my own teeth and the challenges that come with that.

  14. Denise

    January 7, 2018 7:35 pm

    Oh my dog this is fascinating I had no idea dog braces existed or that there are times when the underbite would need to be corrected. Thank you for the information!

  15. Sweet Purrfections

    January 8, 2018 2:45 am

    My mom’s dog has a major under bite, but he is a Shih Tzu mix. He appears to do fine and have no problems eating.

  16. Amelia Johnson

    January 8, 2018 4:09 am

    A dog with braces…makes me smile. So glad that some veterinarians have made dentistry their calling in life so dogs that need some adjustments can get help. Pet parents love to spend money on their pets and this is worthy of money well spent!

  17. Dash Kitten Crew

    January 8, 2018 4:51 am

    OOH MY we learned something new today. Underbite. Crikey this sounds unpleasant for a pup and I am glad there are remedies (even if some of them seem quite expensive!!!)

    I take it that minor underbite issues don’t’ cause a dog undue distress?

    • Lori

      January 9, 2018 4:45 pm

      That’s right – in most cases, people may notice a minor underbite, but unless it’s interferring with breathing or causing them pain, dogs couldn’t care less. People should be more like that!

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