Veterinary dentists have used braces and other orthodontic appliances to treat dogs with painful and potentially dangerous dental issues like humans.
Braces can help dogs who are dealing with everything from crowded teeth to cancer. One of the most common issues they’ve used to address is a condition called linguoversion when the teeth are pushed back towards the tongue. When the linguoversion occurs on the lower teeth, breeders call this “base narrow.”
In this position, the teeth may rub against the roof of the dog’s mouth. At best, this can cause major discomfort. At worst, the teeth could poke holes in the roof of the mouth, leading to chronic and serious sinus infections.
Other issues that can cause problems including an overbite when the lower jaw is shorter than the top, and lance teeth, when the upper canines point out rather than down.
Braces may also be used when the dog’s baby teeth fail to fall out properly. As the adult teeth come in, the mouth becomes increasingly crowded, leading to a greater risk of infections.
In more extreme cases, braces may also be applied after part of the jaw has been removed for cancer treatment. This helps minimize tooth drift.
The pet has to be healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, and compliant enough to tolerate repeated pokings and proddings. Owners also have to be up to the task of maintaining and cleaning their pet’s mouth throughout the treatment process.