Your hamster's teeth are different from yours. Instead of being erupting once from the jaw and staying the same size throughout life, hamsters' teeth grow continually. As your hamster chews, it wears down the ends of the teeth, and the they continue to re-grow in a manner similar to your fingernails.

 In the ideal world, a hamster's teeth would wear down at the same rate that new tooth erupts from the gums. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes hamsters' teeth may become overgrown, leading to pain and difficulty eating. Other times a hamster may chip a tooth or develop tooth decay. If you want to keep your hamster healthy and happy, it's essential to do what you can to prevent dental problems and treat them properly if they do occur.

Preventing Dental Problems

The best way to keep your hamster's teeth healthy is to provide him or her with something to chew on. Chewing on hard objects wears the teeth down, so they don't become overgrown. Store-bought chews made specifically for hamsters work well, but they're not your only choice. A hard wooden block will also work – just make sure it's natural, untreated wood.

Some hamsters develop tooth decay after sweet foods are allowed to sit in their cheek pockets for too long. To prevent tooth decay, minimize the amount of sweet fruits you give to your hamster. Opt instead for lower-sugar treats such as lettuce and broccoli. Giving your hamster an occasional slice of cheese supplies calcium to reduce the risk of chipped or brittle teeth.

Signs of a Dental Problem

If your hamster suddenly stops eating, this may be a sign of a dental problem. He or she may also attempt to eat, but put the piece of food down after taking just a small nibble. Keep in mind that dental problems are not the only reason hamsters may stop eating. If your hamster appears very lethargic and is off feed, he or she may have a serious infection and you should seek medical assistance immediately.

Other signs of dental problems in hamsters include discharge or bleeding from the mouth, or refusal to let you touch the jaw area. If you're able to peer in your hamster's mouth, you may be able to see if the teeth are overgrown, chipped or decaying. Healthy hamster teeth are brownish-white in color, so don't be alarmed if the teeth are this color.

Treating Dental Problems in Hamsters

If you think your hamster may be suffering from a dental problem, you best bet is to take him or her to the vet. The most common dental problem in hamsters is overgrown teeth, and your vet can clip the teeth so they function normally again. If cavities are to blame, your vet may flush the hamster's pouches to rid the mouth of sugary buildup that's contributing to the decay. Chipped teeth may be filed down to smooth them out until they re-grow.

If you give your hamster plenty of things to chew and are careful to limit intake of sugary snacks, then you're doing all that you can for your pet's dental health. Do remember, still, to keep an eye out for problems. Every hamsters' mouth and teeth are shaped differently, and some hamsters are prone to dental issues, even when the best precautions are taken.

To learn more, contact a company like Munster Animal Hospital with any questions you have.