The Alpaca has teeth only in its lower jaw and has a hard palate in the upper jaw.
For the most part alpaca teeth in the UK are bang on and should meet the upper palate at the front in the correct alignment.
Indeed all alpacas in the UK should have been selectiively bred for correct jaw alignment and bite over the past twenty years so misalignment should really be a thing of the past unless it is a one off genetic throwback which sometimes can happen.
However as with the toenails because our grazing is much softer than that of the high Alti-Plano in some pastures the teeth are not naturally ground down by the amount of grit and hard forage in the diet. So although the teeth are not necessarily misaligned it is possible through age and a lack of grit in the diet that the teeth might have a tendency to overgrow slightly in some animals. A tolerance of aroudn 2-3mm is acceptable and in some of the older alapcas this may be about 4mm.
This does not happen with all alpacas and we would all prefer alapcas with perfect dentition but occasionally there will be the odd alpaca whose teeth overgrow and it is sometimes necessary to grind the teeth of the alpacas back to normal to avoid the onset of any feeding difficulties. This is done using a metal rope saw and then a small grinding wheel on a Dremmel accompanied by the use of a gag. This job is one of the services offered by the shearer , as it is much easier to deal iwth the teeth when the alapca is tethered on th table and for those people who have a phobia for dentistry it is well worth the uptake.
Teeth that are undershot in that the teeth meet the pad back further than a 4mm back from the front indicates a genetic defect and great care should be made when mating these females to ensure that the male has a very correct bite. In an ideal world one would tend to take these alpacas out of the breeding programme so as not to perpetuate bad dentition down the generations.
At three years of age alpacas change their teeth. The new set grows in below the old set and pushes the old set out. So for a few weeks it would appear that your alpacas are seriously overgrowing their teeth. They can look very goofy at this stage. Do not Panic, as soon as the old teeth drop out all will return to normal. Alpacas do not change their teeth again.
Mature males develop two sharp fighting teeth around their third year. It is vital tht these are cut down at shearing to avoid them growing large enough to become a danger to other alpacas whilst contesting for supremacy amongst other males. These are normally cut at shearing , by the shearer using surgical wire.
NB:- Should your shearer not deal with these fighting teeth at shearing then find another shearer.