A guinea pig is a great first pet for most people and even kids! They are very friendly and affectionate. However, they come with a fairly decent list of things you should be doing to keep them healthy and caring for your guinea pig’s teeth is one of them.
If you’re not sure where to start, go through our checklists for guinea pigs and work from there. The best thing you can do is get on a good routine for care and grooming.
Improper care of their teeth and gums can lead to quite a few dental problems. These can move into other more serious problems if not taken care of soon. If your guinea pig is not eating or is salivating too much it’s likely they have teeth issues.
Elondontism in Guinea Pigs: What is it?
Elondontism is where your teeth grow continuously for your entire life. The easier way to put it is that guinea pigs have “ever growing” teeth meaning their teeth will grow for their entire life.
Guinea pig’s are special in that if they lose teeth, such as one falling out, they will grow back. Because their teeth continuously grow you will need to make sure that you’re checking their teeth and gums for any issues as well as feeding them adequate hay and having toys available for them to grind down their teeth.
How Many Teeth do Guinea Pig’s Have?
Guinea pig’s have 20 teeth in total and they only have one set of teeth for life. This means that guinea pigs do not have baby teeth that they lose and grow adult teeth.
Guinea pig’s have four incisors, four premolars and 12 molars that they use to chew their food and hay.
These are the four long, thin teeth at the front of your guinea pig’s mouth. Your guinea pig should have two on top and two on bottom. They will use these teeth to grab their food and begin the chewing process. They will also use these teeth for grooming purposes. There is a small gap between the incisors and the premolars called a diastema.
These four teeth site right behind the incisors but just in front of the molars and are used to start grinding down food that you’re giving your guinea pig.
These twelve teeth are “heavy duty” grinders that do a bulk of the work and where your guinea pig does most of it’s chewing. There are six molars on each side of the mouth with three on top and three on bottom. The molars, just like incisors and premolars, are ever growing as well.
Dental Problems with Guinea Pigs
The most common way to find out if your guinea pig is having teeth problems is if they stop eating or chewing or they wince when you touch their teeth or mouth area. Because of their small size and smaller mouths it’s hard to really see any issues. It’s important you monitor their chewing and eating to make sure they are doing enough of it.
If you see any mouth sores, cuts, abscesses, overlong teeth or they are unable to eat it’s likely that their teeth are too long. At this point you’ll need to speak with your vet to to ensure there aren’t any hidden problems masked by teeth problems. Your vet will be able to help you get treatment for any dental issues you’re having.
A common issue many guinea pig owners face is misalignment. If the teeth are overgrown or the guinea pig suffered from an injury their teeth may become misaligned causing issues with eating. This is most often shown in their incisors. Your vet should be able to file down the tooth or perform surgery to help put the teeth back in place.
Caring for Guinea Pig Teeth
If you’re giving your guinea pig an adequate amount of hay, food and chew toys then there isn’t much you need to do. Your guinea pig will naturally grind down their teeth by constantly chewing.
The best things for guinea pig’s teeth are hay or wooden blocks. There is no optimal tooth length and most guinea pigs will naturally manage their own tooth length by chewing.
You’ll want to check your guinea pig’s teeth during your weekly checkups. You shouldn’t see any yellowing of their teeth and their gums should look healthy. Make sure your guinea pig’s diet is rich in vitamin B and C to promote teeth and gum health. Their diet should be at least 80% hay, grass or alfalfa to help grind their teeth down.
If you see your guinea pig salivating more than normal or they aren’t eating you should check their teeth. In some cases if they let their teeth get too long it can cause problems trying to chew or bite down. If their teeth are too long you’ll want to talk to your vet to have them help you grind them so your guinea pig can eat again.