For some animals suffering from linguoverted mandibular canines (base narrow canines), an option for treatment can be a gingivoplasty or ‘gingival wedge’. This procedure when timed and performed correctly can guide the erupting mandibular canine teeth into a more correct position, avoiding a traumatic occlusion and the long-term issues that follow.
The procedure is generally performed in dogs that have a Class 1 Malocclusion (linguoverted mandibular canines). The reason being is that the lower canines are relatively easy to guide into a more labial position (lateral or “outwards”) than moving them either forward or backward. Patients with very mild Class 2 or Class 3 Malocclusions (underbite or overbite) may also be candidates for this treatment.
This procedure has specific timing requirements. It is most effective when performed whilst the mandibular canines are erupting. If performed after eruption is completed, the canine teeth are much more firmly “anchored” in the jaw and tend not to move as well. If performed too early the specific shape of the gingivoplasty cannot be estimated, and the surgical site will often heal back into its original shape before the tips of the canines come into contact with the area.
The surgery itself requires removal and reshaping (-plasty) of some gum tissue (gingiva) between the maxillary canines and the maxillary third incisors. When performed correctly, it creates a ramp which will guide the erupting lower canines into a more appropriate position.
Like other treatments for linguoverted mandibular canines, this is an orthodontic procedure – the aim is to move the mandibular canines into a non-traumatic position. Often it is used in conjunction with Ball therapy, crown extensions or selective extractions of less important teeth.