Hamsters are one of the few animals that are born with teeth. They belong to the rodent family, which is notorious for gnawing on objects. Hamsters have two front incisor teeth in the upper and lower jaw that grow continuously throughout their lives. It is not unusual for them to break a tooth. If the root of the tooth remains intact, then the tooth will regrow. If not, then it may never return.
Regularly Inspect Teeth
Hamster owners should check their pets' teeth on a regular basis. Do this by gently pulling the skin at the back of the neck so the skin around its mouth looks like a smile. The teeth will be revealed so you can get a good look at them. They will be a yellowish-brown color, which is normal for a hamster. Check the teeth regularly and your hamster will soon realize he's not being hurt.
Check for teeth that are broken, missing, misaligned or too long and overgrown. Long teeth can lead to mouth infections, abscesses and damage to the inside of the cheek pouches. To determine if they are too long, give your hamster a large treat, like a monkey nut in the shell. If he cannot open his jaws wide enough to grasp it then his teeth are too long and must be clipped by a vet. If there is a broken tooth, the others may need to be clipped so they don't overgrow.
How to Prevent Common Tooth Problems
A long tooth is more likely to get broken that a shorter one, so you do not want your hammy's teeth to grow too long. Hamsters need to chew regularly to wear their teeth down, so provide things to chew in the cage. Small branches from trees like apple, hazelnut, walnut or hawthorn are good, but if you have no branches available the cardboard center of a toilet roll is better than nothing. Take him to the vet if his teeth need clipping. This is a very inexpensive procedure.
Tooth decay has become common in hamsters due to the sugar-filled hamster treats available in pet stores. Signs of decay include problems with eating, drooling and facial swelling. Use branches in preference to treats to prevent this. Older hamsters sometimes develop brittle teeth that break often, making it difficult for them to eat. In this case give them soft foods like porridge, bread soaked in milk, scrambled egg and hamster mix softened in warm water or milk.
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