Orthodontics (Moving Teeth) in Cats

Orthodontics for cats?

Occasionally, teeth in cats do not come out in the right location, which may create pain when they close their mouths.  When this happens, decisions on what to do come down to either moving the teeth to comfortable positions, decreasing the height of the teeth so they do not stick into the opposite jaw, or moving the teeth to comfortable and functional positions.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to take out the tooth? 

Sometimes, yes – especially when a smaller single rooted tooth is involved.  When a larger tooth (or canine) is causing the oral pain it often is easier on the cat to reduce the height of the tooth and restore it, or to move the tooth.

How is the height reduced?

To decrease trauma from penetrated gum tissue, or from one tooth hitting another, the tooth can be cut.  Medication is placed on the cut tooth’s nerve to prevent pain, and bonding material is used to restore the shortened tooth to full function.


Lower-left canine positioned forward causing lip inflammation


Lower left canine tooth height reduced and restored to eliminate rubbing


How are teeth moved?

Teeth can be moved by applying constant or intermittent prolonged pressure in the direction you wish the tooth to move.  To move teeth, veterinarians can attach orthodontic buttons and elastics to the teeth, or create an inclined orthodontic appliance. As in people, the process takes weeks to months.


Upper canine teeth positioned abnormally causing lower jaw pain


Orthodontic buttons and elastics used to move the upper canines into functional pain free condition



Upper canines moved within two months.


Is it OK for orthodontics to be performed on show cats?

The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) prohibits cats in the show ring that have had orthodontic care for fear that the cause of the abnormal tooth location could be genetic and passed on to future generations.

Can my veterinarian provide the orthodontic care my cat needs?

Many veterinarians are comfortable delivering orthodontic care for cats.  Your veterinarian may seek the advice of a veterinary dental specialist (www.avdc.org) for advice or referral.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP

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