When it comes to owning a pet hamster, there are a range of responsibilities you need to undertake to keep them healthy and pain-free. One of which is their dental care. But before you can look to properly and appropriately support the health of hamsters teeth, you may be wondering how many they even have?
So, how many teeth do hamsters have? Hamsters have a total of 16 teeth. They have 4 incisors and 12 molars which they are born with. Teeth are naturally yellow in color and continue to grow throughout the life of a hamster. So as an owner, you need to proactively help your hamster naturally grind down their teeth to keep them at an optimal length.
Hamsters are incredibly small rodents, and at first glance, it appears that they only have between 2-4 teeth. I was actually very surprised to learn that they had 16 teeth in total through my research.
Let us now take a closer look at the mouth of a hamster and answer all the closely related questions you may have on the topic!
Teeth of a Hamster
Unlike us humans, hamsters are actually born with teeth! In fact, they never stop growing throughout their entire lifetimes.
For this reason, it is important as an owner that you ensure your hamsters teeth are kept naturally trimmed and are not able to grow out too long. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of pain among a whole host of other issues.
Do Hamsters Have Yellow Teeth?
Hamsters teeth are naturally yellow in color; this is the normal and healthy color in which they should be. So, if you did notice your hamsters teeth are yellow – do not be concerned!
And there is reason for this.
It is all down to having extra enamel – which serves a special purpose. It helps hamsters chew and bite on harder, more challenging foods!
In fact, if your hamster was to have white teeth – it is more likely to be a cause of concern. It would indicate that the enamel has worn away and is no longer protecting the teeth.
It is important to note that not all hamsters will have exactly the same color in their teeth. For example, stains can occur through some foods of the diet – this can last for a few days or sometimes longer. Just make sure that if they are stained red, that this is not blood.
Usually, the teeth will stain in accordance with the color of the foods they eat. This is why it is important to stay away from food that has been dyed. These are mostly heavily processed foods and are not the best to serve your hamster anyway.
Do Hamsters Loose Teeth?
Hamsters live with a set of teeth that should last them a lifetime. They will continuously grow and there are no teeth ‘underneath’ that will want to push through and displace their current set.
For the most part, so long as your hamster is chewing and gnawing on food and chew toys, they will naturally grind down their teeth. But, is it possible for a hamster to loose their teeth?
Hamsters should not loose teeth if their gums are healthy and appropriate dental care is in place.
However, it is possible for a hamster to loose a tooth or two. This generally happens if the root is injured or the tooth is displaced.
Thankfully, hamsters are able to regrow their teeth even if they were to break.
How To Care For Your Hamsters Teeth
One of the best ways to ensure your hamsters teeth do not grow too long, is by providing an appropriate diet, along with some chew toys. Your hamster will then naturally grind away at their teeth through eating and chewing.
If your hamsters teeth were to grow out too long, or if you do notice/ suspect that your hamsters teeth are not effectively wearing down, then a trip to the vet may be required. In this instance, they will be able to trim the teeth down to a more appropriate length.
Hamsters naturally gnaw, so as long as you place a number of safe wooden chew toys in their cage, like this excellent set from Amazon, a trip to the vet thankfully should not need to be the case.
From there, be sure to include enough rough food including pellets, which will also help to safely keep your hamsters teeth in check.
Be sure to not overfeed treat foods, and be careful with fruits. This is because these are high in sugar and can cause tooth decay over time. Equally, these foods are often soft and do not provide your hamster with the roughage they need to wear away at their teeth.
Moreover, be aware of the fact that hamsters will instinctively store food in their pouches. You need to make sure they are not eating anything sharp or that could cause damage to their pouches, gums or teeth.
Providing enough water is recommended too. Ensure it is clean and fresh and replaced frequently. This will prevent your hamsters mouth fro drying out which can lead to weakness in the gums and a higher propensity for damage.
If the gums or pouches were to be wounded; there is the risk of bacteria and infections taking hold. So, be sure to offer enough water and appropriate foods.
Lastly, be sure to prevent boredom in your hamster. This typically occurs when they do not have enough to do, are not kept active, or spend too much time alone.
Hamsters will turn to chewing on their cage bars which can cause dental issues; chipping of the teeth and uneven wear and tear can arise.
This is why balls, wheels and tunnels are often placed in a hamsters cage by owners. It helps to prevent boredom which leads to these self-sabotaging behaviors.
How Do I Check My Hamsters Teeth
Checking your hamsters teeth from time to time will enable you to check up on the overall length, ensure they are grinding down appropriately and evenly, and ensure your hamster is not suffering from any potential complications, like abscesses.
That being said, you need to be very careful when you attempt to check your hamsters teeth.
Hamsters are small and have fragile jaws and mouths. You never want to force your hamster to open their mouths.
Be sure never to attempt to open their mouths when their cheeks are full, before, during or shortly after eating.
To check your hamsters teeth, you should approach them slowly and carefully. Check the body language of your hamster and ensure they are calm and relaxed.
From there, you can gently retract the skin around their mouths. Gently pull their lip up and inspect their teeth. You should find that, if you are gentle enough, your hamster will naturally open their mouths for you.
Take a look at both the incisors and molars – look for any signs of damage, discoloring or uneven grinding.
Be careful when closing their mouths to ensure you do not cause harm or damage to them.
Sometimes, a hamster will yawn. This is another good time to inspect their teeth but you may need to be quick!
Yawning most often occurs when a hamster is feeling aggressive, stressed or just prior to sleeping. Therefore, this is not the time to put your fingers in and around their mouths – it is best to observe from a distance and leave them alone.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Issues
When checking your hamsters teeth, there are some things you will want to look out for.
Firstly, you want to ensure that your hamster has the yellow coloration across their full set of teeth. You want to observe teeth that are roughly the same size/length and there should also be correct alignment. The incisors should be together as opposed to overhanging any teeth.
With that being said, hamsters are known to suffer with some specific dental issues. Let us now explore some of the most common ones below:
Broken teeth can happen for a variety of reasons, but either way they can cause damage to the gums. Broken teeth run the risk of causing cavities and infections as bacteria can proliferate up the root of the tooth. Sometimes abscesses form.
Abscess can usually be identified through swelling around the affected tooth/teeth.
Sometimes, abscesses will leak and ooze with blood and other discharge. If you were to observe this, then a trip to the vet is recommended.
Your vet will likely look to drain the abscess and may even prescribe oral antibiotics. In the most severe cases,teeth may even be removed from your hamsters mouth.
Cheek pouches can also be damaged through broken teeth. Usually you will notice this through swelling, bleeding or sometimes even firm cheek pouches.
Malocclusion is essentially where teeth come out of alignment.
One of the most common signs is that dribble will fall out of your hamsters mouth. Some hamsters will use their front paws to wipe dribble away, so it can be hard to notice at first.
Other symptoms to look out for are bleeding gums – stained teeth is usually a clear sign. If you do notice any blood, then again visiting a veterinarian is recommended.
Your vet will look to ensure that not bacteria or infection has taken hold and will treat accordingly.
Teeth trimming may be suggested; which will usually be done with a pair of specific nippers. Some vets will even use a high speed drill to file at the teeth and create a smoother edge.
After you take your hamster home, you will be advised to feed your hamster on a diet of softer foods until the tenderness in your hamsters mouth subsides.
Hamsters have a complete set of 16 teeth that will continue to grow throughout their lives.
Its important to consider the dental and oral health of your hamster – particularly when you consider that they are reliant on diet and natural grinding to keep their teeth at optimal length and to prevent pain and other issues from developing.
Proper diet, specific chew toys and eliminating boredom are some of the best things you can do to look after the teeth of your hamster.
However, if you were to notice issues – your hamster in distress, issues eating, drooling or any signs of bleeding – be sure to contact your vet.
An examination may result in an abnormal finding and could mean trimming or even antibiotics to remove an infection are required.