Veterinary Dentistry: Classifying Malocclusions

Veterinary Dentistry: Classifying Malocclusions

The misalignment of teeth between the maxillary and mandibular dental arches is called malocclusion. Malocclusions can be brought on by inherited causes, trauma, tumors, or infections and can affect one or more teeth. Crowding and tooth rotation can be caused by breed differences in skull shape or variations in jaw length.

Although dental malocclusion can affect any dog or cat, it is more common in purebred dogs. Malocclusions caused by bone deformity and abnormal jaw length are hereditary and should not be bred.

What are the classes of malocclusions?

Class I

The mandible and maxilla are the same lengths in this form of malocclusion, but one or more teeth are misplaced. This is frequently the consequence of injury altering the eruption of deciduous or permanent teeth or dental overcrowding. A tooth might be entirely misaligned, as in the case of a supernumerary tooth, or it may be slanted in an aberrant direction.

Class II

This happens when the maxilla is longer than the mandible. This can happen unilaterally (on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides). If left untreated, this malocclusion might result in establishing an oronasal fistula. The trauma can be severe and unpleasant, leading to mouth pain and dysfunction.

Class III

This happens when the mandible is longer than the maxilla. This type of skeletal malocclusion is frequently linked with a reverse scissor occlusion (anterior crossbite – the mandibular incisors occlude rostral to the maxillary incisors). The mandibular canine teeth might occlude directly with or rostral to the maxillary third incisors. This malocclusion is considered “typical” in brachycephalic breeds.

Class IV

Class IV malocclusions are less common and are frequently referred to as “wry bites.” In this malocclusion, one side of the jaw is longer than the maxilla, and the other is shorter. These malocclusions are occasionally developmental, but we encounter them more frequently due to trauma or procedures in which a portion of the jaw has been removed.

When does malocclusion require emergency care?

If a puppy or kitten’s jaws do not mature correctly, sharp teeth may pierce the sensitive soft tissues in the mouth instead of interlocking naturally. Some of these conditions necessitate dog & cat emergency vet to relieve discomfort, ensure comfortable occlusion, and prevent consequences to surrounding tissues.


Routine veterinary dental services are typically used to determine tooth malocclusion. When you bring your pet for treatments like cat teeth cleaning or dog gum care, your puppy dentist will check your pet’s teeth and might take dental X-rays to assess if their teeth are correctly aligned. If your dentist discovers malocclusion, they will classify it according to its kind and seriousness.

Diagnosis of malocclusion and the formulation of an efficient treatment strategy are dependent on a precise examination of occlusion. At six months, we anticipate that a complete set of permanent teeth will replace all deciduous teeth. The assessment from a reliable dog veterinarian  is essential for the early identification of afflicted animals.


The following remedies may be applicable depending on the location of the damage to the trauma-inducing tooth:

  • Removal of the affected deciduous (baby) tooth/teeth. The adult counterpart of this tooth may or may not constitute a future problem.
  • Permanent (adult) tooth/teeth extraction
  • Orthodontic treatment is used to move the problematic tooth or teeth.
  • Taking out the problematic tooth or teeth. The crown of the tooth can be excised in certain circumstances. This method is more complicated since the root must be carefully safeguarded throughout the procedure.

Key Takeaways

  • A precise interdigitation and link between maxillary and mandibular teeth are connected with normal occlusion.
  • Malocclusion refers to a misaligned connection between the maxillary and mandibular teeth.
  • Malocclusion can be asymptomatic or cause many symptoms.
  • Therapy alternatives for troublesome teeth include movement, removal or partial amputation, and endodontic treatment.