Canine Bite Patterns: Understanding Underbites

You may not know it, but dogs’ bites are just as crucial as human bites, and can even be corrected if they impact their daily activities. However, some dog breeds possess standard bites that are considered unattractive. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of canine teeth and bites.

🐾 Anatomy of a Dog’s Teeth

❂ Quantity of Teeth

At 2 months old, a dog’s baby teeth emerge. There are 28 baby teeth in total, 14 on top and 14 on the bottom jaw. Then, the baby teeth fall out between 4-5 months, and are replaced by permanent teeth between 7-8 months. The permanent teeth consist of 20 upper teeth and 22 lower teeth, making a total of 42 teeth.

❂ Types and Functions of Teeth

The incisors, commonly known as the front teeth in humans, are the front teeth that serve to capture and bite off prey. Permanent incisors appear between the third and fifth months of life and there are 6 on the upper jaw and 6 on the lower jaw, totaling 12 teeth.

Dogs use their long and sharp teeth, also known as “fangs,” to catch prey, hold food, and tear it apart. There are two upper and two lower fangs, totaling 4 teeth.

Premolars aid in holding and cutting prey and food. They begin to emerge after 4-6 months and there are 8 upper premolars and 8 lower premolars, a total of 16 teeth. The pitted upper surface of the posterior molars grind food into smaller pieces, and the pincer-shaped upper surface of the upper molar does the same.

🐾 Different Types of Dog Bites

Scissors bite is the normal bite in which the inner side of the upper incisors slightly touches the outer side of the lower incisors when the mouth is closed.

Level bite, also known as incisor bite or horizontal bite, is when the tips of the upper and lower incisors align when the mouth is closed.

Overshot, also referred to as an overbite or maxillary protrusion, occurs when the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw, causing the upper incisors to be in front of the lower incisors and not touch when the mouth is closed.

Undershot, also known as a protruding mandible or opposite bite, happens when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw and the lower incisors either overhang or protrude in front of the upper incisors when the mouth is closed. This malocclusion is common in breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, and boxers.

❂ What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion refers to any bite that is not the standard scissors bite. Other types of malocclusion include the “lie bite,” in which the teeth on either side grow unbalanced, and the “cross bite,” in which the upper and lower jaws are normal but some teeth are misaligned.

❂ Causes of Malocclusion

  • Genetics play a role in malocclusion. Some breeds have an undershot standard due to repeated breeding based on the standard, such as bulldogs, French bulldogs, and other breeds with bulldog blood. Malocclusion is also more common in small dogs with small jaws and mismatched jaw and tooth size.
  • Remnant deciduous tooth: A permanent tooth may grow in place of a deciduous tooth that has not been extracted, leading to obstruction of the growth of the permanent teeth and resulting in a crossbite, which is more common in small dogs with small jaws.

🐾 Is it Essential to Correct My Dog’s Bite?

❂ Each Tooth Serves a Purpose and Has a Place

Malocclusion occurs when the teeth are misaligned and the bite is not aligned, causing various problems such as difficulty eating, difficulty removing plaque from teeth, and damage to the gums and palate from teeth striking them. However, dental treatment for dogs is often a major and specialized surgery requiring general anesthesia, so it is not necessarily required unless the pattern is severe. Regular brushing of the dog’s teeth and check-ups can prevent oral problems.

❂ Health Issues Related to Malocclusion That May Need Correction or Treatment

If the upper and lower jaws are significantly different in length, it can cause damage to the gums and palate and should be addressed by a veterinarian. Crossbite can also cause front teeth to damage the mouth and cause pain in the dog, requiring tooth extraction or orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment is a highly specialized field and not all veterinary clinics are equipped to handle it. The condition of the jaw and bite should be evaluated when the baby teeth appear at 2 months and again when the permanent teeth have finished erupting at 8 months.

🐾 Considerations for Dog Bites

A poor malocclusion is not necessary to correct or extract teeth unless it endangers the dog’s health or life. However, poor malocclusion can be a disadvantage in dog shows and treatment may be an option if the dog is being entered in shows. Many veterinary clinics refuse dental treatment for appearance purposes without demonstrating any health risks for ethical reasons. Most minor malocclusions can be managed without treatment, but good dental care is crucial to prevent periodontal disease and gingivitis, both of which have a high incidence with malocclusion.

🐾 Conclusion

Treatment is not necessary for a dog’s bite unless it threatens their health or life. Regular dental check-ups during growth changes and physical exams can help identify any potential problems. The owner is responsible for their dog’s health and should monitor their mouth for any signs of pain or discomfort, as dogs cannot express these issues themselves.

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