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Boston Terrier Health Watch: Teeth, Gums, and Jaw

With their short, broad heads and flat faces, Boston Terriers don't have a lot of space for their jaws and teeth. As a result, their jaws may develop abnormally and their mouths tend to be crowded, causing misaligned teeth and jaw problems.

The technical terms for these conditions are prognathia and teeth crowding:

  • Prognathia: This condition occurs when the dog's mandible, or lower part of the jaw, is longer than his maxilla, or the upper jaw. This malocclusion, or abnormal bite, is considered normal in dogs with flattened faces.
  • Teeth crowding: Crowding occurs when there is inadequate space for the teeth in the lower or upper jaw, resulting in tooth contact or overlap. Because your Boston must fit 42 teeth in his shortened mouth, it's likely that his teeth will be misaligned.

A Boston with prognathia or crowded teeth requires you to be diligent about his oral hygiene. A secondary effect of teeth crowding is increased plaque with resulting gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, and a predisposition to periodontal disease, the most common cause of tooth loss in dogs (and humans).

Brush your Boston's teeth regularly to rid his mouth of plaque buildup and bacteria that can lead to halitosis (bad breath), behavior changes linked to oral pain, and gum infection.

If your Boston develops halitosis, chews his toys less frequently, paws at his mouth, changes his eating habits, stops grooming himself, or shows any other signs of oral pain, contact your veterinarian. She won't recommend braces to straighten his teeth, but she may inspect his mouth, give it a thorough cleaning, and treat any localized infections.

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