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Dog Braces - Can a Dog Get Braces for His Teeth?


Is it the newest trend or just a myth? Can a dog get braces for their teeth? Do people really have an option to have their precious pet's teeth straightened out to perfection, just as they would be able to have their child's or their own pearly whites looking great?

Truth be told, braces are available for dogs. A veterinarian orthodontist can perform this procedure. However, braces are only put on a dog's teeth in certain situations.

Overview of the Teeth

Unlike the 32 teeth that humans have, a Chihuahua or any other dog will have 42 teeth. Whether a dog is a small, medium or large breed, the number of teeth will be the same, as is the set up of them in the dog's mouth. 

There are 12 incisor teeth which are very sharp and there for a purpose aside from biting. Long ago when dogs were a wild breed and not yet domesticated, these sharp incisors were perfect for hunting down and tearing food apart. Even now, you pet needs these. 4 large canine teeth surround the incisors and molars finish out the 42

Do Dogs Really Get Braces? 

Yes. However, one must note that braces are not put on a dog for cosmetic reasons. While one may wish for their dog's mouth to look perfect when trying to rank well in dog conformation shows, braces are only implemented when a dog's health is at risk. 

When a dog is entered into a conformance dog show, their teeth will be checked. The judges look for well-aligned and even teeth. They also want to see that teeth are in good condition and that none have had to be removed due to neglect. 

If your dog has a medical reason for needing braces, your veterinarian should agree to perform the procedure.
Some vets may wish to do an extraction; however with dog braces fast becoming popular, that is not the only option anymore.

Valid Reasons for a Dog Needing Braces

With 42 teeth, there are 42 reasons why a dog may need braces. Dental care is very important for all dogs. However, even with great care, one or more teeth may grow out of line. In some cases, a dog's tooth may grow so out of place that it severs into the dog's mouth. A tooth can grow to the side and if intervention is not taken, it could very well keep moving until it is poking into the dog's cheek tissue.

Severely misaligned teeth can cause great discomfort for dogs with can lead to impaired ability to eat. There have even been cases of a tooth growing up into a dog's mouth; the complete opposite direction that it should. This can also cause infections, as skin is slowly punctured; bacteria can grow quickly and cause many health issues.

Aside from fixing individual teeth, there may be a a malocclusion issue. This is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth the two dental arches where they meet each other as the jaws close.

It is in cases such as this, a veterinarian orthodontist can step in and correct the issues. 

How This Works

In many cases, a dog will not receive a full set of braces as a human would. With today's medical techniques, a dog can have a small set of braces, such as a bridge type layout that crosses over 1 or 2 teeth. Options also include orthodontic buttons with elastic chains or invisible braces (working on the same principle as Invisalign for humans)

In severe cases where the majority of the teeth are growing at extreme angles and causing or have the potential to cause health risks, more than one set of braces may be put into the dog's mouth.

They will work to slowly move the dog's tooth back into place. With many dogs, the teeth stay in proper alignment once the braces are removed and a retainer will not be worn afterward.

Once it is determined that your dog would benefit from wearing braces on their teeth, the dog's veterinarian or a referred dog orthodontist will take an impression of your pet's bite. Most of the time, the dog is given anesthesia while the braces are being put on.
Care must be taken while the dog is wearing them; it can be quite an adjustment as the dog will not be allowed to eat hard, dry dog food. Hard chew toys are also forbidden for the duration. 

The owner must also be diligent in providing daily cleanings as food particles trapped between the teeth and the braces can quickly cause problems such as infection or decay.

Results are very positive. Just as one would expect, a dog must get used to having this new apparatus in their mouth; however dogs are very resilient and adapt very quickly. Once the misalignment is corrected, a dog will be out of pain and given back their good health.

Adjustments may need to be done. 
Braces are typically worn for 6 months to 1 year. In cases of extreme malocclusion braces may need to remain in place for up to two years.

Typical Cost

Dog braces can run between $1500 and $4000 USD. 

If your budget can take the bite, this is usually very effective for a dog to no longer have dental discomfort. In cases of severe misalignment, the only other options is to have teeth removed, which can cause additional issues.
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