Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC

2409 Omro Road
Oshkosh, WI 54904-7713


Bite relationships in cats


This bite is right!

There are characteristics of normal occlusion in cats.  It is most important for the occlusion to be functional and comfortable.


No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

Left side view.

No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

Front view of a comfortable bite.  Dr. Kressin was holding this cat and the right upper canine became hidden by the lower lip. 

Note the position of the upper and lower incisors and the relationship between the canine teeth.

No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

Right side view. Note the interdigitation of the premolar teeth.


Dr. Kressin recommends that owners and their veterinarians routinely examine their cat's mouth during the developmental period and throughout life.  Make it a habit to brush your cat's teeth, as you do your own!  Notice the relationship of the upper and lower jaws and how the teeth align.  This is called the bite evaluation or the occlusal evaluation.  Malocclusion is an abnormal occlusion (abnormal bite).

Does your cat have the normal number of teeth?  You can view a dental chart we use for cats and read additional information about bite evaluation.  Sometimes extra teeth or supernumerary teeth can result in abnormal bite relationships.  Supernumerary teeth may contribute to tooth crowding and the development of periodontal disease.  Occasionally, teeth grinding may result from supernumerary teeth.


Is the bite right and does it matter? 

The bite is absolutely important.  Our goal is to make the bite right and comfortable for pets! 

The occurance of malocclusions in cats is less common than in dogs; however, they do occur.  The resulting malocclusion may be minor and functional, or major malocclusions from traumatic bites to the cat's oral tissues.  The trauma from teeth hitting teeth, or teeth hitting soft tissue, can be uncomfortable or even result in other problems.  When the bite is not right, teeth crowding or gingival trauma may contribute to the development of periodontal disease.


This bite is not right!

No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

Harry Potter; wry bite.  Both lower mandibles (jaws) are shorter than normal.  The left lower mandible is shorter than right mandible.  The lower right secondary (adult) canine strikes the palate (roof of the mouth).  The left lower canine has not erupted completely.  This traumatic occlusion can result in a hole in the palate.

Harry Potter's owners and veterinarian noticed the problem developing.  Surgical extraction of the primary (baby) canines helps avoid the interlock between upper and lower teeth.  This allows (but does not guarantee) for normal jaw growth.  The interlock prevents normal jaw growth and development.


This bight is not right.

No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

Both mandibles are longer than normal resulting in a traumatic malocclusion.

No Description resized to 300 pixels wide

The left upper canine interferes with the left lower canine.  The lower canine is malpositioned as a result of the trauma.

A traumatic malocclusion.

Alternate view.

Alternate view of the lower canine teeth striking the upper lip.  There is a disparity in jaw length. 

Disparity of jaw length.

The mandibles appear longer than the maxillas.

Oral mass developed secondary to the traumatic occlusion.

Alternate view.


Open mouth jaw locking is an emergency.  Dr. Kressin has seen this occur from super-eruption of the upper canine teeth in cats.  It is usually associated with chronic periodontal disease and alveolar osteitis.  The upper canine tooth and the lower canine tooth come into occlusal contact and the cat is unable to close the mouth.

Open mouth jaw locking may also be due to TMJ dysplasia, TMJ luxation or the entrapment of the mandibular coronoid process with the zygomatic arch.  Dental radiography or computed tomography can be very helpful in evaluation of the TMJ.  This is not a common condition in cats, but has been reported in the oriental breeds.

A dental consultation is recommended if there are persistent primary teeth, dental interlock or a traumatic malocclusion.


Cat Dental Care

Bite Evaluation