Dental Disease Small MammalsDental Point
February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Veterinarians across the country frequently celebrate by providing discounted dental cleanings for dogs and cats, but what about our small herbivore and rodent companions? Is dental health as important for our exotic companion mammal friends? Absolutely, but in different ways! As animals with constantly growing teeth. Though the cause varies, dental disease can result in substantial. And even life-threatening, health concerns in small pets. So it is essential to learn as much as possible about prevention and early detection.
Normal Tooth Anatomy
These long-crowned teeth lack an anatomical root, and continuously grow throughout the animal’s life. Making up for the substantial wear and tear resulting from a lifetime of chewing on abrasive materials. If their teeth become overgrown it can result in uneven wear, malocclusions (the teeth not lining up properly) or other uncomfortable abnormalities, which can ultimately affect your pet’s ability to feed themselves.
Rodents and small herbivores have easily visible incisors – the long. Chisel-like teeth at the front of their mouths (two upper and two lower). Believe it or not, rabbits have a total of 28 teeth (including two small teeth right behind their upper incisors called “peg teeth”). Guinea pigs and chinchillas boast 20 teeth, and hamsters, gerbils, rats, and mice all have 16 teeth! Interestingly, small herbivores like rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas have a mouth full of open rooted teeth.
Though small omnivorous rodents like rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils also have perpetually growing incisors. Their cheek teeth do not continue to grow, as rabbits and other small herbivores do. Regardless of species, that’s a lot of teeth to keep an eye on, especially when you can’t easily visualize the majority of them at home. This is what makes it so important for pet parents to monitor for any signs of dental concerns, and to ensure routine dental care by a trusted veterinarian.
Causes of Dental Disease
Any physical or anatomic anomaly that interferes with the eruption and/or wear of your pet’s teeth can lead to dental disease. The causes of dental disease are lumped into two categories: congenital and acquired. Congenital Dental Disease Small Mammals is the result of an issue present from birth.
Acquired dental disease, on the other hand, is far more common than congenital dental disease. And most often results in subtle changes over time; therefore, most animals are diagnosed when they are older. Though no dental disease is good, acquired dental disease is most often preventable, so proactive pet parents have a chance to prevent this serious health concern, eliminating it from ever becoming an issue in the first place.