Can Pets Survive with Overbites?

Hi there, Dr. Barchas! I have a few questions about my kitten who was born with an overbite. She's 10 months old, eats really well,...


Hi there, Dr. Barchas!

I have a few questions about my kitten who was born with an
overbite. She’s 10 months old, eats really well,
sleeps a lot and has no teeth except for the very
front ones.

I was wondering if you have encountered a lot of cats
with overbites. My vet’s technicians say they have never
seen an overbite on a kitten. Could this affect the length of her life?

Lastly, what happened to her back teeth? Do they
just not grow when there are mouth problems?
Should I have an X-ray done just in case to see
where they are?

Any information you could give me
would be awesome! She is sooooo adorable and cute
and I’m looking to find other people that have had
this kind of situation before so I could start her
on special food, toys, etc.

Well, thank you and I hope you have a good one!

Middletown, Ohio

I have met many pets with severe overbites. In my experience overbites occur more often in dogs, but plenty of cats have them as well. For the most part, they lead normal lives.

Most overbites are cosmetic problems. A Chihuahua with an overbite won’t win at Westminster, but she will still be able to lead a regular Chihuahua life.

In some pets, overbites can cause a syndrome (called malocclusion) in which the teeth don’t fit together properly. In many cases malocclusion is harmless. In others, it can lead to dental wear or other problems. And, if a pet has a severe overbite the canine teeth (the fangs) of the lower jaw may grow into and damage the tissue of the palate or mouth. This is rare, and can be treated with orthodontics or extraction of the lower teeth.

You definitely should have a vet check your cat to rule out severe malocclusion. However, since she has so few teeth, there probably won’t be an issue.

And speaking of the lack of teeth: I doubt it’s a cause for concern. The tissue from which the teeth germinate most likely was absent from the affected area of jaw. Dental X-rays wouldn’t be a bad idea, but if your cat is behaving and growing normally, X-rays aren’t mandatory.

I also see no need for special toys or food. You mention that your cat is eating well, so there’s probably no reason to change things up. Your cat may look a little different, but I suspect that she will lead a normal life.

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