Malocclusion – an introduction

22 Malocclusion – an introduction

By definition, malocclusion is an abnormality in the position of the teeth. Malocclusion is common in the dog, but also occurs in cats. The clinical significance of malocclusion is that it may cause discomfort and sometimes pain to the affected animal. In some cases, it may be the direct cause of severe oral pathology. It is consequently important to diagnose malocclusion early in the life of the animal so that preventative measures can be taken.

Malocclusion can result from jaw length and/or width discrepancy (skeletal malocclusion), from tooth malpositioning (dental malocclusion), or a combination of both. The development of the occlusion is determined by both genetic and environmental factors. Specific genetic mechanisms regulating malocclusion are unknown. A polygenic mechanism, however, is likely and explains why not all siblings in successive generations are affected by malocclusion to the same degree, if at all. With a polygenic mechanism, the severity of clinical signs is linked to the number of defective genes.

The most reasonable approach to evaluate whether malocclusion is hereditary or acquired is as follows:

An outline of the more common types of malocclusion is given below.


Brachycephalic dogs have a shorter than normal upper jaw and dolicocephalic dogs have a longer than normal upper jaw; in both cases, the mandible is not responsible for any rostrocaudal discrepancy.

Sep 3, 2016 | Posted by in SMALL ANIMAL | Comments Off on Malocclusion – an introduction

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