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  • KAREN MCKENZIE

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth continued!!


Continuing our dental theme!

It’s not fair! Some pets have worse teeth: Yup. Its true. Sorry. I own such a dog. “Widget” was born with an overbite. So, his bottom jaw was too short. This meant that his lower canine (“fang”) teeth hit the roof of his mouth every time he closed his mouth - ouch. When his adult teeth came in at 6 months of age, he went to Dr. Hale and had doggy “braces” for a month to help his adult canine teeth grow out in such a way they didn’t hit the roof of his mouth. I admit, I thought that might be the end of his dental troubles, perhaps just wishful thinking of a new puppy owner. Because “Widget” has a short jaw, all his teeth don’t really line-up properly. He doesn’t have the perfect “scissor bite” that nature intended. If you look at a normal dog or cat mouth in profile the top and bottom teeth line up in a perfect zig-zag line like a pair of pinking shears. Just like pinking shears, they are designed to shear food perfectly between them. When you have a pet with an overbite (“Widget”) or more commonly, an underbite like many popular breeds such as: shih tzus, pugs, bulldogs, pekingese, himalayan, and persians….. Well, they don’t have a “scissor bite”, and that means plaque cannot get easily scrubbed off by chewing on their VOHC approved dental diet or chew product. Sigh. “Widget” needs his teeth cleaned at least once a year to keep them healthy. Meanwhile, my nice mutt “Dizzy” has a classic scissor bite & a much healthier mouth.

Little Dogs: Little dogs have proportionally very large teeth. When genetics shrunk the skull of the miniaturized dog, it did not shrink the teeth to the same degree. This means that tiny dogs, have teeth that are too big to fit in their mouth. This leads to crowding of the teeth, as well as rotation of teeth, some teeth cannot actually fully come in (under-erupted), and occasionally some cannot come in at all (they can be “impacted” like wisdom teeth). These issues usually mean that small dogs encounter more dental problems earlier in life. Like “Widget” many small dogs benefit from early dental interventions in the first year of life when their adult teeth are coming in (more can be done to help them come in properly when they are young). Many small dogs also require more frequent professional cleanings to keep their mouths healthy.


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