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.

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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.

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

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Left side view.

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 confortable 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!

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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.

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

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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.  The upper
jaws are relatively shorter than the lower
jaws.  The lower canines traumatize
the upper lip!


Disparity of jaw length.                            The mandibles appear longer than the maxillas.


Oral mass developed secondary to                       Alternate view.
the traumatic occlusion.

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