Occlusion is the term used for normal alignment of the top and bottom arcades of teeth (top photograph), therefore, malocclusion refers to an abnormality in this alignment. This can occur due to an abnormal shape or position of the bottom jaw in relation to the top jaw or due to an abnormal position or angle of a single (or multiple) tooth/teeth. There are multiple types of malocclusions, some can be related to the puppy’s breed and will never cause the puppy any issues, however others cause sharp teeth to make contact with sensitive soft tissues (bottom photograph).
Over time this can cause big problems. If noticed early, then some of these malocclusions can be corrected. Your vet will check for problems with your pet’s occlusion at his/her primary vaccinations however, some can only become evident as the pet ages therefor regular check-ups are recommended in young pets.
As previously discussed with puppies and kittens, it is also possible for adult dogs and cats to fracture their teeth, although much larger forces are required to do so. These can vary in severity depending upon the type of fracture and which structures of the tooth are exposed. If any of your pet’s teeth appear abnormal, please get them checked by a vet; if treated quickly then some teeth can be preserved.
This is not a comprehensive guide but gives you an idea of common dental diseases that you may identify in your dog and cat at home. Frequent home care is key to good oral health. If you are frequently examining your pet’s mouth then you will quickly get to know what is normal for him/her, meaning you are much more likely to spot any abnormalities. We would recommend that your pet has a full general health check including an oral health assessment at least every six months with a Veterinary Surgeon. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, please contact your Vet directly.