Most of the world is familiar with guinea pigs as charming pets with eccentric personalities. They have a wide range of whistles and squeaks and are available in a rainbow of colors. Even guinea pigs, or “cavies,” are specifically bred by breeders to have unique fur lengths, hues, and textures.
In the South American Andes Mountains, where they were initially domesticated for meat, guinea pigs are still widely utilized as livestock. Here, we’ll learn more about guinea pig teeth and how owners may keep their pet guinea pigs’ teeth healthy.
How Many Teeth Do Guinea Pigs Have?
The front teeth, known as the incisors, function as a knife and cut the food. To chew and ground food, the molars and premolars are employed, which facilitates simpler swallowing and digestion of the meal.
Did you realize? Canine teeth are seen in omnivores and carnivores. However, because they are strict vegetarians, guinea pigs don’t!
What’s special about guinea pig teeth?
Guinea pig teeth are particularly unique in that they are constantly developing. Guinea pig teeth continue to develop at a pace of 1-2 mm each week, but human teeth remain the same size and form throughout adulthood.
The teeth must continue to develop since the amount of tough fiber in the diet wears them down. In order to make up, the teeth must expand in size.
These teeth are referred to as “open-rooted,” and other herbivores like rabbits, chinchillas, and degus also have them. However, guinea pigs don’t have as many teeth as their pals the rabbits have! Compared to guinea pigs, who have just 20, rabbits have a total of 28 teeth.
Herbivore teeth are excellent at chowing down on hard fiber all day long, but they do need to be consistently and uniformly worn down.
The teeth can get overly long or point in the incorrect direction if there isn’t enough plant matter in the diet to appropriately wear them down. Unfortunately, oversized teeth are rather common and can seriously harm our small friends.
Ever Growing Teeth
The rodent family Caviidae includes guinea pigs, which are elodonts, like many other rodent species. A guinea pig has elondontism, which means that all of its teeth continue to develop throughout their whole lives. A tooth will regrow even if it is lost.
They have a total of 20 teeth, and unlike pets like dogs and cats, they only have one set of teeth throughout their whole lives—no baby teeth.
Incisors – At the front of their jaws, guinea pigs have four long, thin teeth. They have two on top (maxillary) and two on the bottom of these teeth, which are their incisors (mandibular). In order to start chewing food, the incisors are utilized. Additionally utilized for grooming, the incisors.
There is just a space known as a diastema between the incisor and the premolars, which is located behind the incisors, where a canine tooth would typically be on other animals.
Premolars – Four premolars total—two on top, two on bottom, and two overall on each side of the mouth—are present in guinea pigs. After the incisor, the premolars are the tooth that comes in front of the molars. They are used to crush and chew the hard food that guinea pigs need to survive.
Molars – The guinea pig’s mouth has molars for its final 12 teeth. When it comes to chewing food, these heavy-duty grinders are responsible for the majority of the job.
Each side of the mouth has six molars in total, three on top and three at the bottom. The molars grow constantly throughout the guinea pig’s whole life, much like the incisors and premolars.
Do Guinea Pigs Have Baby Teeth?
Sadly, guinea pigs lack infant teeth. You see, infant cavies lack milk teeth but newborn humans do. Additionally, they do not go through the first several months of life without teeth.
All pigs, from the tiniest to the largest, have teeth. And they are always expanding!
Guinea pig teeth continue to develop throughout the animal’s life, unlike human teeth, which cease growing at a particular age.
A new tooth will grow in if an adult pig loses one, unlike humans. A cavy doesn’t require crowns, bridges, or fake teeth.
Overgrown teeth in guinea pigs
When guinea pig teeth are overgrown, it can often be easy to see. If the incisors grow excessively long, you can frequently tell by glancing at your piggie’s face. The cheek teeth, as well as the molars and premolars that are tucked deep inside the mouth, are nonetheless invisible to us.
Too long cheek teeth can produce sharp “spurs” that rub against the cheeks and tongue and lead to sore sores. When gum disease is severe, the lower cheek teeth might actually lengthen to the point where they form a bridge that spans the whole tongue, making swallowing difficult.
All of this indicates that guinea pigs with enlarged teeth frequently stop eating. Unfortunately, this might make the piggie much worse off because their delicate, complex digestive system won’t function correctly if they don’t constantly nibble on food.
Additionally, since the teeth don’t wear down at all while guinea pigs aren’t eating, their dental issues will worsen.
Pigs detected in this downward cycle should be sent to the vet as they will require a lot of care and assistance to recover their health. But how can we prevent guinea pig tooth issues from ever developing in the first place?
How Long Do Guinea Pig Teeth Grow?
Given that guinea pig teeth are open-rooted, which means they are always growing, this question is challenging to answer. A guinea pig’s teeth can develop up to 7.5 cm (or around 2.9 inches) a year on average.
Cavies’ incisors continue to develop if they aren’t given the right food to chew on and wear down their teeth with. The ideal length of a pig’s teeth, however, is 1.5 cm (0.5 inches).
Did you realize? Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs have an enamel coating to protect their top front incisors.
What’s Normal For My Guinea Pig?
There are 20 teeth on a guinea pig. They have three pairs of upper and lower molars, three pairs of upper and lower premolars, upper and lower incisors, no canines (there is a little gap where these would be), and upper and lower incisors.
It’s crucial to remember that guinea pigs should have white teeth, not yellow ones like other rodents. They shouldn’t have excessively long or curved teeth, and they shouldn’t be showing any discomfort or uncertainty when eating.
Just What Do Guinea Pigs Use Their Teeth For?
Why do guinea pigs’ teeth continue to erupt throughout their entire lives? These rodents have evolved to consume mostly hay and grass, which are nutrients that erode teeth quickly. Their teeth changed to mirror the changes in their diets.
These little mice don’t have to worry about losing their teeth before they get old; in fact, with a growth rate of 1-2 mm each week, they could have the opposite issue.
Guinea Pig Dental Problems
In many regions of the world, mostly in North America and Europe, guinea pigs are relatively common pets. They may live up to twelve years, are amusing and adorable, and require little maintenance (though 6-8 is more common). However, they are more likely to experience dental issues in captivity due to their constantly developing teeth.
The teeth of a healthy guinea pig should be white, not yellow like those of other rodent species. To keep these healthy teeth, it’s crucial that kids get enough vitamin B and vitamin C in their diet.
Guinea pigs actually use their teeth for selective coprophagy in order to obtain enough vitamin B. (poop eating). Their teeth are vital for more than simply chewing hay; they make a unique form of pellet-like excrement that they eat to absorb adequate vitamin B.
It is crucial that owners feed their guinea pigs the right diet and give them plenty of things to chew on because their teeth never stop growing. At least 80% of a guinea pig’s diet should consist of hay, grass, or alfalfa, with vegetables and rodent pellets being offered as supplements.
The guinea pig’s teeth will probably become overgrown or misaligned without the constant grass chewing, which is why it is crucial to provide such a high percentage of hay. Additionally, owners may give their guinea pigs pet-safe wood blocks to gnaw on, which they will gladly do.
Preventing tooth problems in guinea pigs
Lack of fiber in the diet is a significant contributor to dental disease in guinea pigs. It’s crucial that our pet piggies consume enough plant since guinea pig teeth are designed to gnaw on grass all day. The trick is to feed a lot of hay; in fact, we suggest that hay or grass comprise at least 80% of the diet.
You should keep in mind that not all types of hay are created equal in terms of nutritional value and quality. In general, Timothy or Meadow hay, such Science Selective Timothy Hay, or Russel Rabbit Tasty Hay are the finest choices for guinea pigs. Our piggie pals firmly favor both of these choices!
To maintain your pet’s teeth as healthy as possible, the diet you offer them should also be high in fiber. Our Science Selective Guinea Pig diet is one of the greatest options for oral health since it has a very high fiber content and no added sugar.
Lack of vitamin C is another factor in guinea pigs’ dental issues. Piggies’ teeth may become loose if they don’t get enough of this vitamin in their food, which will interfere with proper wear.
As a result, it’s critical that your pet’s diet have adequate vitamin C, which may be found in leafy green vegetables and pet food that is specifically formulated for guinea pigs.
While the level of vitamin C in certain meals decreases quite a bit over the course of storage, we utilize stabilized vitamin C in all of our guinea pig diets to ensure that your pet receives the most nutritional benefit from their food.
What are the signs of tooth problems in guinea pigs?
The appropriate diet is a fantastic method to lower your piggie’s risk of having dental issues, but it’s also crucial to be aware of the warning signs so you can spot any issues right away and take preventative measures. Since they are a prey species, guinea pigs are quite skilled at disguising their discomfort, but these are the warning signals to watch out for:
Drooling: Your piglet may have a damp chin or they may shave off some of their fur here. Your pet may have trouble eating and may continually dropping the food. They could appear upset when trying to eat, and they might even have second thoughts after visiting the food dish.
Food preferences may change when tooth spurs form; guinea pigs may find some items difficult to consume. They frequently exhibit a preference for softer meals over harsher ones.
Reduced appetite—this is extremely risky for your pet since it might signify that their sensitive digestive system is malfunctioning.
- Loss of weightPoor grooming and an unruly coat
- Masses around the jaw – abscesses can occasionally form when dental disease becomes really severe.
- It is advisable to have your piggie’s health evaluated by your veterinarian if they exhibit any of these
- symptoms. They’ll be able to provide you advice on what to do to assist your pet go back to being happy and
The above information covers guinea pig teeth. The most crucial thing to bear in mind is that these little herbivores require continual chewing on large amounts of hay to maintain good teeth. Visit our site to find out more information about hay for guinea pigs.
What Can I Do to Keep Their Teeth In Check?
Because they like chewing, guinea pigs have a characteristic that helps them prevent malocclusion and excessively large teeth. To keep them active and to maintain the health of their pearly whites, give them wooden blocks (made of untreated wood only) or other toys designed especially for guinea pigs to chew on.
Teeth are shortened and kept at a healthy length by biting, chewing, and grinding. Although each animal has a different ideal tooth length, maintaining their habitat well-stocked with chewy objects can help them stay healthy.
We are pleased to provide care for different animals including pocket pets here at the Animal Clinic of Milford! No matter their size, we are glad to treat all of your precious pets with enthusiasm and compassion. Call (203) 882-8311 right away to make an appointment!