Hamsters: dental problems

Hamsters’ incisor (front, gnawing) teeth grow continuously throughout their life; as is true for all rodents. The incisors receive continuous wear as the uppers and lowers contact each other, preventing overgrowth.

Misalignment of either the upper or lower incisors because of previous injury, abscess formation or malnutrition may result in overgrowth of one or more of the teeth.

Overgrown incisor teeth usually cause serious injury to the roof of the mouth. Sometimes the lower incisors actually grow through the roof of the mouth and into the nasal cavity.

Initial signs of this problem are poor appetite and drooling; total lack of eating, weight loss and a foul odour from the mouth may be noted later.

If you notice any of these signs, you should take your hamster to see your vet.

If the incisors are overgrown your vet can carefully trim them and extract them from the roof of the mouth. Antibiotics are prescribed because of the high probability of infection following this type of injury.

Periodic trimming of the incisors is usually necessary for the remainder of the hamster’s life.