A guinea pig is a rodent and many think that being a rodent they have only two lower and two upper incisors but that is wrong.
A guinea pig has more teeth than you think. They have twenty teeth inside that little mouth of theirs. In this article, you will learn about their teeth, dental issues, and how to take care of them.
Number of Teeth They Have
A guinea pig has:
- A pair of lower and upper premolars
- Three pairs of lower and upper molar
- Two lower and two upper incisors
A guinea pig does not have canine teeth but instead, there is a gap called the Distema. It is just a name that has been given for the gap between two teeth.
How to Make Sure Their Teeth Are Healthy
You want to make sure that their teeth are healthy but there is no real way to tell unless you take them to the veterinarian for a check-up. You can look at them and see if you notice anything abnormal. You can also observe your guinea pig to make sure that they are not showing any signs of distress and that they are eating right. Their bottom and top incisors can grow up to 1.5 centimeters long. If they are eating and do not appear stressed, then their teeth are being worn down naturally with their food. This is what should be happening.
Wearing Down Guinea Pig Teeth Naturally
In addition to feeding your guinea pig fresh grass and hay, they need to have compressed pellet foods to help keep their teeth worn down where they should be. They can also be given other things to gnaw on, like a tree branch that does not have any chemicals or pesticides on the. You can also use hardwoods like maple, apple, or oak.
Common Guinea Pig Dental Problems
1. Not Eating
A guinea pig can develop a medical condition called anorexia. In a guinea pig, this means loss of appetite. If it is a dental issue they may just stop eating, which can cause other health problems and make them very sick.
2. Elongated Roots
Their teeth are continually growing; sometimes causing the roots can start growing into the jaw or get pushed up. If it is the bottom teeth, you may sometimes feel little bumps along the lower jaw line but for the tops, they will need to do an oral exam. If their eyes are bugling or tearing, this can be a sign that the roots are not growing right.
The guinea pig will be given an x-ray and if they are in the early stages, a chin strap will be used. This is a piece of material that is attached around their jaw with a Velcro strap.
These are teeth that have not properly worn down and are overgrown. Although it appears that only the front teeth are affected, it can occur in both back and front teeth at the same time. When this happens and becomes worse, the ability to chew will deteriorate. This means that their front teeth will not get their normal level of wear down. Many times, the bottom molars will grow toward their tongue. The top molars will grow outwards toward their cheeks
These types of teeth can cause injuries, sores, and infection in their mouth. The overgrown teeth will prevent a guinea pig from chewing and eating, resulting in weight loss. Some of the symptoms of this dental issue include:
- Not eating or picking at their food
- Weight loss
- Their mouth hanging open slightly
- Discharge from their nose or eyes
- Wet hair around the mouth and under their chin
- Small pieces of food dropping from their mouth
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Dropping food after they pick it up
After an exam and x-ray, the veterinarian will put the guinea pig under anesthesia and ground and file the affected molar. They will also file the front teeth. If the problem is advanced, they may need dental work every few weeks until the problem is taken care of.
4. Loss or Broken Teeth
Guinea pigs sometimes like to chew on their cage, and if they do it too hard, they could break a tooth. You should carefully check their teeth regularly to make sure their teeth are okay. If you see any damaged or broken teeth, you will need to take your guinea pig to the veterinarian to have their teeth filed or trimmed so they are even again. The inside of the guinea pigs mouth can be damaged or punctured from the serrated or sharp edges of their teeth.
Sometimes they lose teeth or have then broken off due to a lack of vitamin C or an inadequate diet. They can also happen because of an accident or injury. When a guinea pig is healthy, many times the tooth will grow back but you need to monitor them to make sure they are okay.
If you notice that a tooth has broken off close to the root or there is a bloody hole where one has fallen out, use a syringe filled with salt water to rinse it out. To fix the saltwater, add a teaspoon of salt to a pint of warm water. You need to keep the hole clean to prevent an infection.
5. Molar Spurs
These are sharp points that form on the molars and can damage your guinea pigs cheek and tongue.
- Their teeth are open rooted and continuously grow. To help combat this you need to make sure that you have the right diet so that your guinea pig can chew and gnaw to keep their teeth at the right length.
- For their overall well-being, you must make sure that they have healthy teeth
- Guinea pigs are very susceptible to teeth and mouth diseases like abscesses, plaque build-up, and bacterial infections.
- A guinea pig needs to have a high fiber, low-calorie diet with lots of fresh grass every day, and high-quality hay.