For some dogs, depending on the exact nature of their orthodontic problem, it’s possible to use invisible, removable retainers to realign their teeth rather than attach composite material to their upper canines for 2 to 3 months. Made by a company called PetAlign, they’re constructed for a dog after a veterinary dentist takes an impression, or mold, of his teeth. That way, the pressure they exert moves the teeth just where they are supposed to go.
As the teeth shift, a new retainer in the series is used to move them further. “They’re like little plastic trays that you switch out every couple of weeks,” remarks Tufts veterinary dentist Jean Joo, DVM.
They are not effective for every orthodontic problem, but they do come with advantages if they are right for your dog, perhaps the most significant of which is that the dog owner can remove them for meals and teeth cleaning (although they should be worn for as many hours of the day as possible). They also tend to require fewer appointments at the vet’s office that necessitate anesthesia.
That the retainers can be removed for teeth cleaning and better all around oral hygiene may be seen by some owners as a big plus. “The traditional composite braces take on food and debris,” Dr. Joo says. “They end up being pretty stinky toward the end.” That’s not the case with the plastic removables