Guinea Pig Teeth
Guinea pigs have 20 teeth:
- A pair of upper and lower incisors
- No canines (instead, a gap called the diastema)
- A pair of upper and lower premolars
- Three pairs of upper and lower molars
A guinea pig's teeth are "open rooted" and grow continuously.
The enamel is white in color and the front teeth can be sharp. Fat pads in the cheeks make examination of the molars difficult. Buccal pad separators are designed to hold the cheeks back, aiding examination.
Good teeth are essential to your pet's health. A nutritious diet and adequate vitamin C will help them grow strong. In a healthy guinea pig, the biting, chewing and grinding of food (especially hays, grasses, and abrasive foods) will normally keep the teeth at the proper length -- a length which varies somewhat from one guinea pig to another. Routine tooth trimming is not necessary and may interfere with your guinea pig's ability to eat.
How do I know if my guinea pig's teeth are okay?
- Observe any changes in how your guinea pig eats food.
- Examine the incisors regularly for breaks and irregular wear (like slanted teeth) during your weekly health check.
- Weigh your guinea pig weekly! Weight loss can be an early indicator of problems like malocclusion. Read MORE
What kind of dental problems can guinea pigs have?Some of the problems that require treatment are:
Who can fix my pet's teeth if there's a problem?
An experienced veterinarian or animal dentist can help deal with problems that arise. Check The Academy of Veterinary Dentistry to see if there is a veterinary dentist nearby. If your vet is unfamiliar with guinea pig teeth, he/she can also consult with a veterinary dentist.
What if a tooth breaks?
Usually the teeth will grow back fine on their own and do not require clipping. Find answers to many of your questions on this site.
Are there genetic tooth problems?
- Some guinea pigs are born without teeth. Read MORE
- Some malocclusion is believed to be genetic, especially in guinea pigs under two years of age.
- And rarely, a guinea pig grows an extra set of front teeth similar to the "peg teeth" found on a rabbit.
Peg teeth in rabbits: Rabbits have four incisors, two on the top, and two on the bottom. Right behind the top incisor teeth are two small peg-like teeth called auxiliary incisors or "peg teeth". -- from the House Rabbit Society website."The second set may erupt later in life."
- See: Thread concerning peg teeth in a guinea pig.
What devices or tools can help a vet diagnose teeth problems in guinea pigs?Lighted otoscopes with speculum are routinely used to inspect the molars by exotics vets who do dental work on guinea pigs.
- Typical Otoscope: at Vetoscope.com
Charybdis contributed this photo of her guinea pig being examined using a lighted otoscope:Buccal pad separators (sometimes referred to as cheek dilators) can also be used to examine the back teeth. A small amount of a safe inhalant anesthetic can aid examination.
- Typical cheek dilator: at Parkland Scientific
- Wire Buccal Pad Separators (CAUTION): Use the newer safe style or make a safe style
Dental x-rays are an extremely valuable tool to aid diagnosing conditions that may not be evident from a visual inspection.
The Chin Sling can provide support for a weak jaw, encourages normal wear of the teeth, and helps build muscle.
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