What You Can Do for a Cat with an Abnormal Bite

By Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP

Dental, Medical Conditions, Treatment

Is the abnormality functional or not? 

If a tooth is out of place but it’s not interfering with other teeth, , penetrating the gum line or affecting how your cat eats, a functional bite exists. Repairing a functional bite for cosmetic purposes is not necessary and is considered unethical. 

When abnormally positioned teeth interfere with other teeth, penetrate the gum line or affect your cat’s ability to eat, a non-functional bite exists and action needs to be taken to create a functional bite. Four treatment options exist: extraction, providing space, crown reduction and restoration, and tooth movement.


Maxillary gum line, lacerated by malpositioned mandibular canineNon-functional cat bite

 "Repairing a functional bite for cosmeticpurposes is not necessary and is 
 considered unethical."

 When is extraction preferred?

Extraction of the offending or offended tooth (teeth), performed by the general practitioner, is the treatment of choice and usually results in immediate relief.

Extraction of the canine(s) can be challenging, however. A specialist referral should be considered if the practitioner is not comfortable with the procedure or the surgical consequences.

 Laser ablation of lacerated gum line caused my malpositioned mandibular canine

"Extraction of the offending or offended tooth (teeth) is the treatment of choice
and usually results in immediate relief."

 Why not just make space rather than extract?

Removal of the impinged gum line can result in a pain-free functional bite. Unfortunately, the benefit can be short lived when the gum line grows back.

What is crown reduction and restoration?  

Decreasing the height of a canine or incisor will often resolve the impingement or penetration of the gum line. This is an advanced dental procedure, preserving the vitality of the tooth through vital pulp or root canal therapy and restoration with light-cured composite. For added protection, a metallic crown can be placed.  

 Rostroverted mandibular canine creating lip impingement     Alleviation of the impingement

What’s involved with tooth movement?  

Moving malpositioned teeth to functional positions can be challenging and rewarding. Teeth are either moved surgically or through the use of inclined planes, orthodontic buttons and elastics.

Orthodontic buttons and elastics used to move the malpositioned canine caudally   Functional occlusion achieved

Orthodontic movement is an advanced dental procedure that should only be performed by someone with an advanced understanding of dental anatomy, physiology, and orthodontic principles. To find a board certified veterinary dentist in your area, log on to www.avdc.org.

Loading... Please wait