Brace yourself for this tooth shattering announcement: At least 26% of all dogs have a dental malocclusion. What is Dental malocclusion you ask? It is defined as the abnormal alignment of the upper and bottom teeth. Malocclusion in dogs can lead to pain, improper nutrition, and a low quality of life in man’s best friend. Don’t worry though, the solution is one you’re likely familiar with: braces. That’s right; braces are not just for humans anymore. With the increasing awareness of the importance of oral health in our furry friends, dogs with braces have become a growing trend. In this blog post, we will discuss why dogs may need braces, how to recognize the signs, and what to expect during the treatment process.

 

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

 

  • Dental issues such as misaligned teeth, overcrowding, and persistent baby teeth in dogs may require braces to improve their dental health.
  • Signs that a dog may need orthodontic intervention include difficulty eating, tenderness in the head or jaw, and misaligned or overcrowded teeth.
  • Consulting with an experienced veterinary dentist is essential for accurately diagnosing and determining the best treatment option. Cost and insurance should also be considered when making decisions about canine orthodontics.

 

 

Why Dogs May Need Braces: Common Dental Problems

 

 

A dog with misaligned teeth

 

 

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dental problems that may require orthodontic treatment. Some common dental issues that may necessitate dog braces include misaligned teeth, overcrowding, and persistent baby teeth. These conditions can cause pain and difficulty eating, especially when it comes to a dog’s teeth, particularly the upper canine teeth, which can significantly impact your dog’s overall quality of life. In such cases, dogs get braces to help alleviate these issues and improve their dental health.

 

 

 

Misaligned Teeth

 

 

Dog with a smile

 

 

Misaligned teeth in dogs, referring to teeth that are not correctly positioned in the jaw, may necessitate corrective intervention, like braces. These misalignments can potentially lead to gingivitis and tooth rot, prompting the need for orthodontic treatment, such as braces. The cost of dog braces is a factor to bear in mind.

 

 

 

Breeds with long, slender noses, such as greyhounds, are more likely to develop linguoversion, a condition where the lower jaw’s canines grow under the gums and cause irritation or difficulty closing the dog’s mouth. Linguoversion is a condition that needs attention. It can be treated with extraction or orthodontic treatment using braces.

 

 

 

Overcrowding

 

 

Overcrowding, a condition where a dog’s mouth houses too many teeth, can trigger several issues, including:

 

 

 

  • Periodontal disease
  • Abnormal jaw position
  • Palate biting
  • Problems with biting or chewing
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Excessive wear
  • Soft tissue trauma
  • Discomfort

 

 

Additionally, overcrowding heightens the risk of periodontal disease and other bite-related problems.

 

 

 

Certain breeds and factors like enamel defects, distemper, and diabetes can also affect a dog’s dental health.

 

 

 

Persistent Baby Teeth

 

 

Persistent baby teeth in dogs are those that do not fall out, which can lead to crowding of the dentition, difficulties with biting, and periodontal disease. Excision is the recommended treatment for persistent baby teeth, but alternative treatments such as dental crowns, dental bonding, and other orthodontic treatments may be available for permanent teeth.

 

 

 

Consultation with a board-certified veterinary dentist can help determine the best course of action for your dog’s specific dental needs.

 

 

 

Signs Your Dog May Require Braces

 

 

If you suspect your dog may need braces, there are several signs to look out for. Indications that a dog may require braces could include difficulty eating, tenderness in the head or jaw, and misaligned or overcrowded teeth. Additionally, behavioral signs that may suggest the need for braces could include difficulty eating or taking an extended period to eat, vocalizing or distress when attempting to eat, dropping food while eating, inadequate chewing, extended top front teeth beyond the bottom front teeth, and an unusually extended bottom jaw.

 

 

 

It’s best to diagnose tooth alignment issues in dogs when they are young and still growing, generally between 4 and 6 months of age when the adult teeth come in.

 

 

 

Consulting a Veterinary Dentist

 

 

If you think your dog might need braces, consulting a veterinary dentist is crucial as they can diagnose the issue accurately and suggest the most suitable treatment. Veterinary dentists with experience in canine orthodontics are best suited to evaluate a dog for braces and determine the most appropriate treatment option. Here is a link to help find a veterinary dentist near you.

 

 

 

Your regular veterinarian can also assist in determining whether your canine requires braces to address issues like crowded teeth.

 

 

 

Types of Orthodontic Treatments for Dogs

 

 

Dog receiving orthodontic treatment

 

 

Orthodontic treatments for dogs can encompass:

 

 

 

  • Traditional metal braces, similar to human braces, are employed for canine use and can help correct misaligned or overcrowded teeth
  • Orthodontic buttons, which can be used to anchor elastics and help move teeth into the correct position
  • Elastics, which are used in conjunction with braces to apply gentle pressure and guide teeth into the desired alignment

 

 

These treatments can be use to treat a variety of dental problems in dogs.

 

 

 

Orthodontic buttons in canine dental treatment are affixed to the teeth and act as attachment points for the elastic bands, which aid in tooth movement and alignment.

 

 

 

The Process of Fitting Braces on Your Dog

 

 

Veterinary dentist fitting dog braces

 

 

The process of fitting braces on a dog involves several steps:

 

 

 

  1. Anesthesia is administered to the dog to ensure a pain-free procedure.
  2. A veterinary dentist will glue the metal brackets to the dog’s teeth and place the braces wire.
  3. The dog will need to make several visits to the veterinary dentist for adjustments and monitoring.
  4. Regular teeth brushing is important to maintain oral hygiene.
  5. Daily inspection of the braces is necessary to check for potential problems or discomfort.

 

 

Ensuring the safe administration of anesthesia is paramount during dental procedures, which includes pre-operative testing to identify the safest anesthetic drugs for each dog. Dogs with braces require regular visits to the vet for checkups and adjustments.

 

 

 

Caring for Your Dog’s Braces

 

 

Dog with braces post-surgery care

 

 

Caring for a dog with braces involves several important steps to maintain the equipment in place and ensure your dog’s comfort. Here are some recommended practices for dogs with braces:

 

 

 

  1. Regularly brush and inspect the dog’s teeth.
  2. Check the inside cheek tissue for cuts or sores where it could be rubbing against the braces too much. Over-the-counter orthodontic wax could be placed over any areas that are too sharp.
  3. Feed soft food to avoid putting too much pressure on the braces.
  4. Avoid giving chew toys and bones that could damage the braces.

 

 

By following these steps, you can help your dog adjust to wearing braces and ensure their dental health.

 

 

 

For optimal results, a pet-specific toothpaste or gel are recommended for cleaning a dog’s braces. It is advised to brush your dog’s teeth two to three times a week when it has braces.

 

 

 

Duration and Monitoring of Treatment

 

 

Dog braces are usually worn for a duration of 2-3 months or more and accompanied by regular check-ups to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments. It is advised to schedule an annual check-up for the dog, but for more specific guidance on the frequency of check-ups during the treatment, it is recommended to consult with a veterinary dentist. Dogs wear braces as a solution to various dental issues, and the expertise of a veterinary dentist is essential for a successful outcome.

 

 

 

The duration of the recuperation depends on the efficacy of the treatment and may be prolonged if there is an infection or inflammation.

 

 

 

Cost and Insurance Considerations

 

 

The estimated cost for fitting braces on a dog ranges between $1,500 and $4,000, determined by factors such as the dog’s size, the location of the vet clinic, and the dog’s age and health condition. Certain pet dental insurance plans may cover dog braces for teeth; however, it is important to review the details of the policy.

 

 

 

The dog braces cost can also fluctuate based on the specific location.

 

 

 

Alternative Treatment Options

 

 

Aside from braces, there are alternative treatment options for dental issues in dogs. Some potential treatment options for dental issues in dogs include:

 

 

 

  • Tooth extraction: This involves a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove a damaged or decayed tooth. The dog may require a soft diet for some time following the extraction.
  • Filing down teeth: This is done to shorten teeth that are causing issues. It is a less invasive option compared to tooth extraction.
  • Ball therapy: This involves encouraging dogs to carry a custom-sized ball in their mouth, just behind the canine teeth, which can help push the teeth into a more idealized position over time.

 

 

Summary

 

 

Dog braces are a growing trend that can significantly improve your furry friend’s oral health. From misaligned teeth to overcrowding and persistent baby teeth, several dental issues may necessitate braces for dogs. It is essential to consult a veterinary dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendation and to be vigilant about caring for your dog’s braces during the treatment process. By addressing these dental problems, you can help ensure your dog’s overall well-being and happiness.

 

 

 

 

FAQ

K
L
Can dogs have braces?

Yes, dogs can get braces as it is a proven way to correct orthodontic issues and allow them to eat and chew normally. Braces are affordable in most cases, although pet insurance may be necessary if cost is a concern.

K
L
How long do dog braces last?

Dog braces generally last for six to twelve months, allowing your pup's teeth to be moved into a natural position with less pain and discomfort.

K
L
Can you put braces on canine teeth?

Braces are a viable option for correcting high canine teeth and the issues that cause them, such as crooked or gapped teeth and malocclusions. Treatment time with braces is usually between 9 months to a year. However, it may be necessary for the oral surgeon to remove the canines from the upper jaw and move them into their proper place if there is not enough space for braces.

K
L
What are some alternative treatments for dental issues in dogs?

Alternative treatments for dental issues in dogs include tooth extraction, filing down teeth to shorten them, and ball therapy. These can provide your furry friend with the relief they need without going through an invasive procedure.

K
L
How much does it cost to get braces for a dog?

The cost of fitting braces on a canine can range from $1,500 to $4,000.

References

  1. Hoyer NK, Rawlinson JE. Prevalence of Malocclusion of Deciduous Dentition in Dogs: An Evaluation of 297 Puppies. J Vet Dent. 2019 Dec;36(4):251-256. doi: 10.1177/0898756420905136. Epub 2020 Feb 13. PMID: 32054398.
  2. Peruga M, Piątkowski G, Kotowicz J, Lis J. Orthodontic Treatment of Dogs during the Developmental Stage: Repositioning of Mandibular Canine Teeth with Intercurrent Mandibular Distoclusion. Vet Sci. 2022 Jul 29;9(8):392. doi: 10.3390/vetsci9080392. PMID: 36006307; PMCID: PMC9416222.