Gerbils are rodents so their dentition is of extreme importance, the gerbil teeth have a direct and great impact on his overall health.
Gerbil teeth problems often cause other serious health issues that in many cases can be fatal so checking them regularly is very important.
To be able to check your gerbil’s teeth you need to know what healthy teeth look like, what are the potential problems, what are the causes, and how to prevent and deal with them if they do occur.
In this article, we’ll be providing you with a complete guide on gerbils teeth and how to maintain them healthy and deal with any conditions.
How many teeth do gerbils have?
The first thing you need to know is how many teeth gerbils have what are the different types and what are their properties.
Gerbils have a set of 16 teeth 4 incisors (biting teeth) and 12 molars (grinding teeth), and they do not have canines and are instead replaced by the diastema which is a space separating teeth of different functions.
Gerbil pups are born toothless, eyes closed and no hair, however, by the time they open their eyes which takes 17 to 19 days they would have already developed their teeth.
How fast do gerbil teeth grow?
Gerbils’ teeth grow very fast since they are fully developed by the age of 3 weeks and can gnaw on solid food by that age going full adult food by the age of 5 weeks when they are weaned.
Once they are 3 weeks old gerbil pups start exploring their surroundings and chewing and gnawing on anything they could get their teeth on.
In general, gerbils reach adulthood very fast and are able to reproduce at the early age of 4 four months, so everything about them is growing fast which is due to their relatively short lifespan.
Do gerbils teeth keep growing?
Yes, gerbil teeth continue to grow all throughout their life, like all rodents, the gerbils have open root teeth, the incisors are continuously growing. The scientific term for this phenomenon is hypsodont teeth.
Therefore, gerbils need to constantly grind their teeth to stay healthy, and there are two ways of doing it, the first is by feeding the teeth are grinding on each other and the second is by gnawing on hard surfaces and objects like wood or clay.
Do gerbils teeth grow back?
Gerbils have monophyodont teeth, which means that their first dentition is permanent, there are no baby teeth.
However, the gerbil teeth do grow back, their incisors are open root teeth which allows them to grow back even if lost, which is not very common, although it happens.
In most cases, gerbils lose a part of the tooth which grows back fast enough, the molars on the other hand are never subjected to enough force to be lost even if it is possible theoretically but it just never happens.
How big should gerbil teeth be?
The bottom incisors should be no longer than 1/4 inch long (about 6 millimeters) and the top incisors 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) at most.
The bottom incisors should appear longer and more curved than the top set of teeth and they should also be aligned with each other.
Gerbil teeth grinding
As we’ve explained earlier the gerbil teeth are continuously growing that’s why constant grinding is important to maintain them at a healthy size and prevent them from overgrowing which is a very serious issue that could end up killing the gerbil.
Making sure your gerbils have access to chews and toys he can gnaw and grind his teeth on is of extreme importance.
All rodents do share this need and would be healthier when they have access to chew toys at all times.
We recommend using a set of multiple items like this set of chew toys (check the current price at Amazon) it offers multiple options for your gerbil and it is made of natural items with no chemicals.
Gerbil teeth trimming
Gerbils that have access to chew toys and are regularly grinding their teeth don’t usually need their teeth trimmed, but overgrowing teeth are a very common situation that could eventually lead to serious health issues of the teeth aren’t trimmed.
Trimming the gerbil teeth should be done by a professional, trying to do it yourself could result in injuring the little guy.
If you are willing to do it yourself you need at least have it done the first time by a vet that would teach you how to do it correctly.
Gerbils may need a periodic trimming session to maintain his incisors at a regular healthy size.
Gerbil teeth trimming cost
Gerbil teeth trimming is a basic operation that does not cost too much it is often done in less than a minute and without anesthetics so it does not cost too much although the prices will vary depending on the location and the reputation of the vet clinic.
In general gerbil teeth trimming costs between 15$ and 50$ and could be less if you do it at the same clinic regularly.
Of course, you can have it done for free if you are willing to learn how to do it yourself but it less stressful and easier for your gerbil to have it done by a vet.
Does trimming the gerbil teeth hurts
No gerbils do not feel pain when their teeth are trimmed, their teeth are open root and will continue to grow.
There are no nerves in the incisors except at the base of the tooth where growth occurs and that’s just like a human trimming his nails it’s painless unless you injure the base of the tooth.
The outer (or front) surface of the incisors is coated in hard enamel and the inner (or back) surface coated in softer dentin. As enamel is harder than dentin, the outer surface wears down more slowly and the incisors remain sharp. The incisor crowns wear away and are completely replaced every forty to fifty days.nature.com
Common gerbil teeth problems
The gerbil teeth are very important to his overall health and many health issues in gerbils are related to their dentition.
Checking your gerbil’s teeth frequently for any potential issues is very important to keep them healthy.
In this part of the article, we’ll cover some of the most common gerbil teeth problems and how to check for them and treat them either locally or at the vet clinic.
Gerbil teeth overgrowth
Teeth overgrowing the regular healthy length is a common problem in rodents in general not only gerbils, since their teeth are continuously growing and need constant grinding they can become too long if the gerbil is not grinding them enough.
Aging gerbils tend to gnaw less on wood and other solid material so their teeth can overgrow, but this is also possible for gerbils that don’t have access to chews or have mouth infections or injuries that make them chew less than they should.
Severe overgrowth can eventually if not treated cause the mandibular incisors to grow into the nares and the maxillary incisors grow into the soft tissue of the jaw.
How to check for gerbil teeth overgrowth?
Overgrowth of teeth can be easily noticed that’s why you need to frequently check your gerbil’s teeth especially aging gerbils.
You should also be able to notice that the gerbil is not eating or eating less since he can’t chew correctly and will lose weight rapidly.
How to treat gerbil teeth overgrowth?
Trimming your gerbil’s teeth is the only way to deal with overgrowth, this condition should be treated as soon as possible because gerbils’ teeth grow very fast and could in a matter of days injure his jaw or get infected and with the presence of bacteria in the mouth infections could be dangerous.
It is best to get the trimming done by a professional or at least have one teach you the proper way to do it before you can have it done at home yourself.
Gerbil teeth malocclusion
Malocclusion means the teeth are not aligned properly. Occlusion refers to the alignment of teeth and the way that the upper and lower teeth fit together. The upper teeth should fit slightly over the lower teeth. The points of the molars should fit the grooves of the opposite molar.
Malocclusion is generally a direct result of the teeth overgrowth but it can also have a genetic background and in some cases, this condition can develop due to blunt trauma caused by contact with cage lids and food that is too hard. Such trauma can also be inflicted by improper handling and fighting with cage mates.
How to check for gerbil teeth malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a common disorder in gerbils and is readily diagnosed by a simple oral examination.
Malocclusion can also be diagnosed by changes in the gerbil’s feeding habits, if he starts eating less the usual portion or having trouble opening his mouth or chewing or even have infections and is rapidly losing weight Malocclusion would be the first thing you should inspect.
How to treat gerbil teeth malocclusion?
Gerbil teeth malocclusion just like teeth overgrowth (and are mostly associated) can be managed by regular tooth trimming which we can’t stress this enough should be done by a professional or an experienced pet owner.
Gerbil teeth loss
Although not very common but gerbils do lose teeth if they are subjected to enough force mostly by chewing something too hard or by trauma due to cage incidents.
Gerbil teeth are open root and will eventually grow back, but having uneven teeth could result in teeth malocclusion and potentially teeth overgrowth.
Very often the gerbils lose the top incisors since it’s the ones subjected to a force pushing out of the mouth.
How to check for gerbil teeth loss?
Lost teeth can be spotted easily by a simple examination of the gerbil’s mouth, you can even notice it by radical changes in the gerbil’s behavior.
A gerbil with a lost tooth will have difficulties to feed and to chew on his toys and will avoid chewing and can even be drooling while eating.
How to treat gerbil teeth loss?
Gerbil teeth loss can’t be treated at once since all the gerbil’s teeth need to be aligned and of the same length on each part, meaning top and bottom separately.
The best way to manage a gerbil teeth loss is by trimming the remaining tooth and providing the gerbil easy to chew and swallow food until the lost tooth grows back and the two are trimmed to a similar length.
Gerbil loose tooth
Loose teeth in gerbils are similar to teeth loss where the gerbil is subjected to some sort of trauma that is not hard enough to break the tooth or make it fall off.
However, in some cases, loose teeth could be the result of a genetic condition or the lack of calcium or vitamin C.
You need to make sure your gerbil is having a balanced diet, check out our articles about gerbils food for more information about what a healthy diet should be.
We recommend the Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Food (check current price at Amazon) it contains a variety of nutrients all mixed into a pellet this way the gerbil can’t pick one seed over the other get access to all the important nutrients of a healthy diet.
How to check for gerbil loose teeth?
loose teeth are not as easy to spot as missing or overgrown teeth but a close inspection of the teeth would be enough to detect it.
The loose teeth would be moving around possibly growing in opposite directions and your gerbil would probably be pushing and scratching at them.
Other signs of weight loss and stress could indicate a loose teeth problem, if you have any doubts you should consult a vet.
How to treat gerbil loose teeth?
The first thing to do if the gerbil has loose teeth is to check if they are overgrown because overgrowth and malocclusion can lead to loose teeth so a trim should be scheduled.
Another important thing to do is to stop feeding your gerbil solid food by soaking his pellets in water and provide small pieces he does not have to cut with his incisors.
If the teeth are too lose they’ll probably fall off anyway so just keep feeding him oxbow pellets soaked in water so they’re soft enough for him to eat, and that’s direct advice from my vet since my little gerbil suffered from loose teeth and ended up losing the top set.
Gerbil broken teeth
Gerbils are prone to broken teeth since their teeth are open root and they do gnaw on solid chews all the time, they sometimes chew the wrong thing and get their teeth broken.
Broken teeth are not a serious problem but if untreated will eventually cause overgrowth since they do not align together and therefore do not get grinned.
How to check for gerbil broken teeth?
Broken teeth are the easiest to spot with a simple oral examination, one tooth will be longer than the other.
If you do not check your gerbil’s dentition frequently you can notice that the gerbil is not eating as much as he’s used to or avoids solid food.
You can notice weight loss in gerbils with broken teeth and sometimes drooling or preferring one side of their mouth to chew.
All of these are signs that your gerbil has broken a tooth but constant cheeking is the best thing to do to make sure your gerbil’s teeth are healthy.
How to treat gerbils broken teeth?
Broken teeth in gerbils are treated the same way as overgrown teeth since one is longer than the other, trimming the longer tooth is what you should do of course by a vet.
If the broken tooth is too short you might have to schedule two trimming sessions to even them out, giving the broken one time to grow which it does fairly quickly.
Gerbil yellow/orange teeth
Yellow and orange are actually the normal colors for gerbil teeth, in fact, white teeth in gerbils are mostly caused by the lack of calcium and probably a non-diversified diet.
One thing not to worry about is if your gerbil has orangey or yellow teeth. This is a common occurrence in rodents in general and is just caused by iron in the diet being laid down in the tooth enamel; it is absolutely nothing to worry about.netvet.co.uk
Healthy gerbil teeth
The gerbil’s teeth are very important to his health and well-being, in fact, all rodents are named rodents after their unique ever-growing teeth they use to gnaw on things.
That is why as a pet parent you need to check your gerbil’s teeth frequently and make sure they are in a healthy condition.
This guide will help you understand the different teeth problems your gerbil might suffer from but in order to check his teeth, you need to know what healthy gerbil teeth look like.
|Characteristics||Normal teeth characteristics|
|Length||1/4″ long for bottom incisors and 1/8″ long for top set.|
|Color||Yellow or orange.|
|Alignment||The top set should be aligned perfectly with the bottom.|
|Proportions||The bottom incisors should be about double the size of the top ones.|
|Posture||The top teeth should be slightly in front of the bottom teeth which are curved.|
|Steadiness||Solid and not loose or moving around.|