Overbites in Puppies

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Puppy chewing on tennis ball in grass field
Puppy chewing on tennis ball in grass field (Image: nimnull/iStock/Getty Images)

Normal development of teeth is vital to a puppy's health. Regular dental exams can detect any abnormalities as she grows. One condition that puppies can develop is an overbite. While some minor overbites do not cause any harm, more serious cases need to be treated by a veterinarian to prevent future discomfort and health issues over time.

Tooth Development

Puppies start developing teeth at about four weeks. This first set of teeth is referred to as the deciduous teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth, while adult dogs have 42. A puppy starts to lose her deciduous teeth between 2 and 3 months of age. The deciduous teeth are completely replaced by permanent teeth by about the sixth month. The incisors come first, followed by the canines, premolars and molars.

Overbite

An overbite is one of several conditions that may develop as a puppy's permanent teeth set in. It occurs when the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw. Instead of the two sets of teeth interlocking with each other when closed, like a scissors, the upper teeth, the maxillary, are positioned in front of the lower teeth, the mandibular, to an abnormal degree. This positioning causes the upper teeth to jut out, while the lower teeth may hit the roof of the mouth. Some dog breeds, such as collies, Dachshunds and Russian wolfhounds, are more susceptible to overbites.

Possible problems

Minor overbites may not cause any harm to the puppy and are only a cosmetic concern. More serious cases, however, can cause pain and make it difficult for the puppy to eat. Since the lower teeth are behind the upper teeth, they can cause damage to the upper mouth, particularly the lower incisors. Damage to the mouth's soft tissues can lead to infections and even food entering the nasal cavity when the mouth's hard palate is eroded. The puppy also may have a harder time chewing food since the teeth do not meet.

Treatment

A veterinarian may recommend different treatments depending on the severity of the overbite. A puppy's overbite may correct itself while the jaw is still developing, until she is about 10 months old. If the overbite is severe, the veterinarian may recommend extracting or reducing the height of the teeth that cause the most harm.

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