What is malocclusion?
Malocclusion is the fancy term for overgrown teeth. Guinea pigs have open rooted teeth, meaning they are forever growing. Teeth can overgrow for several reasons, the most common are an improper diet, illness or sometimes just due to genetics. Generally speaking, if the front teeth are overgrown, the back molars are going to be as well. Overgrown teeth prevent a guinea pig from eating properly or at all. Front incisors are to meet in the middle, there should be no gaps, no over lapping and no slants. Back molars can’t be seen by owners, only the vet will be able to check those for you.
Signs of malocclusion
- Not Eating
- Trying to eat but food falls out of their mouth
- Interested in the food but not picking it up
- Drooling and wet chins
- Bad Breath
- Weight Loss
- Blood and cut tongue or lips
- Eating slower than normal
- Dramatic chewing Motions
- Front teeth are over lapping or slanted
What should you do if your Skinny pig has some of these signs?
A Skinny pig who possibly has teeth issues, needs medical attention right away. A Skinny pig with overgrown teeth cannot eat properly, could be injuring their mouth and is going to suffer from GI stasis. You must take your guinea pig to an exotic vet that specializes in Skinny pigs, you can’t diagnose teeth issues on your own.
Your vet will need to look inside your guinea pigs mouth, for a clear view buccal pad separators are used because back molars are very hard to see.
An x-ray will also most likely be necessary,to get a clear view of what is going on and to rule out other issues.
Treatment: What your vet will need to do
Dental surgery will need to be performed in order to try and correct the teeth. A guinea pig with overgrown teeth will most likely need to be put under for dental work. Filling down the back molars and front incisors will be done.
Often after dental surgery, a guinea pig will need to be hand fed for a period of time and will be on pain medication.
Sometimes after dental problems start, it can be a continuous cycle of dental filings for life. There are also cases where the guinea pig never starts to eat on their own again, so it isn’t something to take lightly.
Prevention: A proper diet is so important
Skinny pigs have open rooted teeth and need something to be constantly filing them down naturally. Hay is what your Skinny pigs require 24-7! A lot of malocclusion cases are caused from an improper diet, so I cannot stress enough about how important it is to provide your guinea pig with hay at all times. Long strand hay is the best thing for your guinea pig to eat and to really make those back molars grind against each other. Chew toys and pieces of wood can help the front incisors, but nothing can get back to their molars like hay can.