My Puppy Has an Underbite, Is That Okay?
Underbears are known for their friendly nature and love of all things furry. They are very affectionate towards humans and other animals. A typical underbear may look like this:
They have a short muzzle, but they still manage to show off a big set of teeth!
The most common type of underbite is a flat bite. This means that the upper lip is not touching the lower one.
A canine tooth (or molar) underbite occurs when the upper jaw does not meet the lower jaw completely. This results in a gap between them, which allows saliva to flow into the mouth without getting trapped or blocked up inside it.
In some cases, the upper jaw may touch the lower one, but there will be no space between them. In these cases, a canine tooth underbite occurs.
Cats have been known to have a flat bite too. They usually do not need any special treatment since they can chew through anything.
Dogs however have different problems with their teeth because of their size and shape.
What happens when an underbite is not treated?
As mentioned before, the upper and lower teeth do not meet when there is an underbite. As a result, food gets stuck in the mouth and cannot be chewed properly. This causes swallowing difficulties and food to get stuck in between the jaws. Not only is this painful, but it can also lead to other conditions such as ear infections, tooth decay, and heart problems. The body may also be unable to get the nutrients it needs from the food.
This condition is most often found in medium to large sized dogs such as the bulldog, boxer, pug, and great dane. However, it can affect smaller breeds too.
In this article, you can read about some of the different treatment options for an underbite. Each one of them has its pros and cons.
Only a vet can decide which one is best for your dog.
1. Allow the Underbite to Heal Itself
This is the least invasive approach to treating this condition. It just involves leaving it alone and giving the jaw time to heal itself.
It usually has to be performed under sedation, so that the mouth can be manipulated into a more comfortable position.
2. Removing Some Teeth
If the underbite is not too severe and does not affect the way your dog eats, medical intervention may not be necessary. Some dogs can live a long and happy life with an underbite.
3. Using a Lip-Fold Treatment
This is one of the most common ways of correcting the underbite condition. It involves folding the upper lip over the teeth to prevent it from curling up.
The procedure is fairly simple and carried out with local anesthesia. A stitch or two may be required in some cases.
The surgical intervention must be performed by a professional veterinarian. It can also cause complications such as infection or injury to the upper lip if not done properly.
4. Using a Palatal Expander
A palatal expander is an orthodontic device that is usually used to treat an overbite problem in puppies and kittens. It works by gently separating the upper jaw from the lower jaw, which causes it to grow more.
This allows the upper jaw to move forward, so that the teeth can meet normally.
This is most often performed on young dogs who are still growing. For it to be effective, it must be worn constantly for a period of time until the desired results are achieved.
In some cases, it may need to be worn over night too.
5. Using an Upper Jaw Reshaping Surgery
This type of surgery involves cutting into the upper jaw and reshaping it to make it thinner and longer. This allows the upper jaw to fit more comfortably inside the lower jaw, so that the teeth can meet correctly.
This procedure is usually not performed on dogs that are younger than 1 year. It is also quite invasive and requires general anesthesia.
In some more severe cases, it may require a skin graft from the dog’s thigh.
6. Using an Ora-Maxillary Surgical Fusion
This procedure is more involved than the palatal expander and palatine surgery. It involves cutting the upper jaw and palate, and then wiring them together to hold them in the right position.
A pin is put through the upper jaw into the skull to keep it in place. The palate is kept together with wire or plates.
This procedure requires general anesthesia and at least one night in the hospital. Complications are not common, but may include infection and injury to facial nerves.
7. Using Jaw Reshaping Surgery
This involves cutting the upper and lower jaw and realigning them into a better position. For this procedure to be effective, the bones must heal in the right position.
A cranial osteotomy is usually performed at the same time to allow more room for the upper jaw to move forward.
This is a very complicated surgery that requires general anesthesia and at least one night in the hospital. Complications are not uncommon and can be quite severe, such as infection and injury to facial nerves.
8. Using an External Distractor Device
This involves placing a device around the upper jaw that gradually spreads it apart. This procedure does not require any cutting or anesthesia and can be reversed at any time.
However, there is a period of several weeks when the dog must wear the device for a number of hours each day.
This procedure can only correct the overbite condition and cannot be used to widen the upper jaw. It is mostly used in conjunction with some of the other procedures listed above.
9. Using a Helmet
This involves making a strong plastic helmet that fits tightly around your dog’s head. It can only be used in conjunction with some of the other procedures listed above.
It is mostly used with the upper jaw expander to hold the upper jaw in the right position while the expander works. It is also used with the maxillo-facial surgical fusion to protect the delicate surgery site while it heals.
This is a quick and easy procedure that does not require any anesthesia or surgery. The helmet is worn for several months as the upper jaw expands and heals in the right position.
10. Surgical Repositioning of the Canine Teeth (Not Recommended)
This involves cutting and repositioning your dog’s canine teeth to a more normal position. This is an invasive and painful surgery that requires general anesthesia.
Complications are not uncommon and may include infection, damage to the nerves, and loss of the tooth. This procedure is not considered to be very effective and is not recommended.
With these procedures, it is important to choose a surgeon that is experienced and has a good success rate with this surgery. It is also very important to thoroughly research the procedure you choose and be sure that it is right for your dog.
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