Hamsters are known as cute pets, easy to care for. Although this statement is true, hamsters are prone to some health problems and diseases. For example, dental issues. These small rodents have, what science calls – hypsodontal teeth or teeth that keep growing during their whole life.
An overgrown tooth can make a big problem, that is why hamsters need to chew on something constantly. It is very important to provide softwood blocks and other chewing toys in order to keep your pet’s teeth short and healthy. If a hamster has overgrown incisors, you should look for help in an exotic pet hospital or vet practice where the doctor can perform tooth trim.
The hamster’s teeth issue is not only in their length. This topic is much broader.
- How should the hamster’s teeth look like?
- Does your hammy need teeth trimming or chewing toys will do the work?
- Can you brush your pet’s teeth, is that necessary?
- Should I need to check my hamster’s teeth?
- What will happen if your hammy breaks its tooth?
If these questions are something that you would like to have answer on, keep reading our article.
How Should the Hamster’s teeth Look Like?
There are 3 main features : length, shape and color of the teeth.
Length – as hamsters have teeth that are continuously growing it is important for you to know the length which is considered safe and healthy. You need to look at two pairs of front teeth. Upper teeth should be 2 times shorter than lower teeth.
To be more exact upper teeth should be around 1/8 of the inch and lower ones around 1/4 of the inch. If you notice that your hammy cannot close its mouth, that means that his teeth are too long.
Another way to check if the teeth are too long is to give your hammy some big treat, for example, peanut with the shell on. If he cannot grab it then its teeth are desperate for one good clipping
Shape – teeth that are right next to each other should have the same shape. If you notice that one of them is shorter or it has a different shape or they are not in line, you should visit the vet who will detect the problem. Lower or bottom teeth are more curved then top or upper teeth.
Color – the color is something that confuses many hamsters owners. In young hamsters, you will notice pale teeth but it is quite normal to get a darker tone as time passes by.
Adult hamsters have yellow or even yellow-orange teeth. The main cause for that is their very acidic saliva. If you see white teeth in your adult hamster, do see the vet, as this color may indicate a problem ( lack of nutritive elements in its diet or the hamster is heavily stressed )
Does Your Hamster Need Teeth Trim or Chewing Toys Will Do the Work?
Keeping the teeth short is a very important question for hamsters. If the hammy suffers from an overgrown tooth, he will be struggling to eat, will lose weight, he might catch some mouth infection or abscess could develop, he will have a problem closing its mouth. So many issues, painful and potentially dangerous. Better to prevent all that.
As nature made hamsters teeth growing constantly, taught these little rodents on how to keep them healthy. That is why they need chewing supplies on a regular basis ( wooden block, sticks, dog biscuits- without onion or garlic but only once in a month, etc. )
If you would like to learn more about chewing toys read our article ‘What does my hamster need in its cage ( Cage setup ).
Not only chewing toys are important. It is also crucial to provide a high-quality diet for your little friend. Make sure you feed him both with fresh and dry food, avoid pet shop-bought treat although he may find them very attractive ( at least if you do give him those treats, make sure they are sugar-free.
If you provide your pet with treats rich in sugar dental decay may appear among other health issues that certainly will). Read more on healthy and recommended food for hamsters in our article What is the best food for hamsters (Top brands, Fruits& Vegetables, healthy treats)
However, if it happens that your furry ball’s teeth become overgrown you should look for the vet’s help. I do not recommend you do that on your own, as you might do not have experience and one little mistake can hurt your pet badly. It is better to leave this job to the professionals.
As hamsters do not have any feelings in their teeth, the trimming process at vet’s will be painless and quick.
Do You Need to Brush Your Hamster’s teeth?
No, you do not have to brush your pet’s teeth. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t ever do that. Just make sure your hammy has enough quality chewing stuff and toys, that is the best you can do for its teeth.
Do You Need to Check Your Hamster’s Teeth?
It is recommended to check its teeth on a weekly basis so you detect any problem on time. Take gently your hamster and pull back its pouches so you can see the teeth ( like you are trying to force him to smile).
They should be in line, the same size ( teeth that are right next to each other), not too long ( like the top and the bottom teeth almost meet each other but there still space for food in between )and yellow-orange.
There are other signs that could indicate a teeth problem. Besides teeth check up on a weekly basis, you should also pay attention to the hamster’s weight and act in case you notice a weight loss.
Besides trouble with teeth, a lack of appetite and weight loss could be indicators for many other health issues. If an excess of saliva appears, that could also be a sign of the dental health issue. Also, you shouldn’t ignore the bad smell from your hammy’s mouth, call the vet.
What Happens if Your Hamster’s Teeth Break?
It is an interesting fact that hamsters are one of the few animals that are born with teeth. Teeth are a very important part of their body and you have to pay special attention to your pet’s dental health.
It is not a rare situation in which hamster breaks one or even two of front teeth. If the root remains intact, no problem, the tooth will grow again, but if your hammy had a bad injury and damaged the root as well, he might stay without that tooth for good.
Your pet still may live without one or even two teeth but you should consult the vet about its diet. I have heard for more drastic examples in which hamsters lost all front teeth or even worse all teeth they ever had. These are pretty serious situations.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you need to feed your pet with liquid food, otherwise, he/she will die. Ask your vet if the mix ‘Critical care’ would be ok for your hammy. This mix is meant for herbivores that had poor diet as a result of some surgery or illness. This food contains all essential nutrients and could be an excellent solution in these cases.
Check your hamster’s teeth on a weekly basis. Supply him with chewing toys and provide good quality food. Visit the vet at least once a year even if your hammy does not have any problem. Hamsters are really cute little creatures and do not require too much work around them. If you have taken one as a pet, the least you can do is to make sure he has good care.