Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) in Dogs and Cats

tooth grinding in dogs

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) in Dogs and Cats

Tooth grinding in dogs and cats, or bruxism, occurs when the top teeth rub against the bottom teeth in a side-to-side motion vs. up and down. Constant grinding of teeth will cause dental wear (attrition) and can lead to discomfort of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is the joint on each side of the skull that connects it the lower jaw. This crucial joint is responsible for opening and closing the mouth. The constant, repetitive force of bruxism puts undue stress on the TMJ and often leads to arthritis.

What are the underlying causes of bruxism in dogs and cats? 

Bruxism can occur in all breeds of dogs and cats and is typically due to an underlying oral or gastrointestinal disorder. Stress and anxiety are less likely causes but may be contributing factors. Broken teeth, oral masses, oral ulcerations, malocclusions, and gastrointestinal discomfort can all be underlying causes. Clinical signs associated with bruxism in people include jaw pain, headache, and tooth wear. The same may be present in dogs and cats but can be challenging to notice.

Diagnosing and treating the underlying cause

If an owner notices their pet grinding its teeth, a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) is advised to identify possible oral causes of tooth grinding. If the jaws or teeth are misaligned, orthodontic treatment can be instituted to correct the abnormality. Full mouth dental radiographs and a complete oral exam under anesthesia will identify abnormalities and help guide treatment decisions. If an underlying oral cause is not diagnosed, it is imperative to evaluate the patient for a possible gastrointestinal cause, such as gastric ulcers.

Chronic tooth grinding in dogs and cats will lead to severe dental wear, gingival recession, infection, and progressive pain. This will only serve to exacerbate the underlying cause. If you notice your pet displaying signs of bruxism, call us Animal Dental Care & Oral Surgery to schedule a consult. Your pet’s oral health needs and comfort are our number one priority.

Is your dog or cat grinding their teeth in Castle Rock, Colorado Springs or Loveland, CO?

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Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay (10/8/2019)