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Hamster Teeth: Everything You Need to Know

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Hamsters are members of the rodent family. There are 19 different species, many of which (including Syrian hamsters and teddy bear hamsters) are popular household pets because of their cuteness and ease of care. Hamsters have horrible incisors, or incisors, and cheek pouches they use to transport food and bedding. Here we'll find out everything you ever wanted to know about hamster teeth and why they are the color they are.

How many teeth does a hamster have?

hamster teeth hamster showing teeth
Hamsters are born with 16 teeth.

©Natalia7/Shutterstock.com

Hamsters are born with a full set of 16 teeth. They have no baby teeth and no adult teeth, only one set that lasts a lifetime. They have four front teeth; two on the top and two on the bottom. Hamsters have no canines, and just a gap between the incisors and the cheek teeth, called the interdental space.

Next are the cheek teeth. Hamsters have a total of 12 cheek teeth; eight on each side, eight above and eight below. Like the incisors, the cheek teeth never replace and stay with the hamster's life.

front teeth

Hamsters use their front teeth to groom, grab food, and occasionally bite their attackers. The incisors are long and thin, and curve toward the hamster's head. They are not used for chewing, but without them, hamsters will have a hard time eating, keeping clean, and shredding litter.

cheek teeth

Hamsters have both premolars and molars, but they're pretty much the same and serve the same purpose, so they're often referred to as cheek teeth. The cheek teeth are essential for crushing and chewing hard foods such as seeds and grains on which hamsters depend. When a hamster chews, the irregular occlusal (chewing) surfaces of these teeth work well for crushing and chewing hard foods.

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Elodonts: Ever-growing teeth

Like the teeth of many rodents, hamster teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. This is because a hamster's diet requires a lot of chewing, and if their teeth don't grow continuously throughout their lives, they will wear out long before the hamster reaches old age. The Latin root of the word "rodent" actually means "to gnaw"; so you can see why hamsters are considered rodents.

Hamster teeth are not like human teeth, which grow once and then gradually wear down throughout our lifetime. Unlike other kinds of teeth, hamster teeth do not have true roots. Instead, they have open roots. This allows their teeth to grow forever.

Why do hamsters have brown teeth?

Hamster Teeth - Yellow Teeth
Hamster teeth are naturally brown or yellow.

© Irishasel/Shutterstock.com

Many first-time hamster owners ask this question; why are my hamster's teeth brown? Or orange? Or yellow? They want healthy hamsters to be pearly white, but hamsters have a unique tooth enamel. This enamel develops below the gum line and helps the hamster's teeth continue to grow. What color is this enamel? It tends to be yellow-orange to brown and almost never white.

It is perfectly normal and healthy for a hamster to have yellow or brown teeth. The older you get, the darker your teeth become. Therefore, it is even possible to tell the age of a hamster by the color of its teeth.

dental problems

Because their teeth never stop growing, pet hamsters often have dental problems. If you choose hamsters as pets, be sure to provide them with a proper diet and enough pet-safe wooden pieces to chew on. However, even with a good diet and plenty of chewing, hamsters can still develop dental problems. Let's take a look at some of the most common problems plaguing hamster teeth.

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full of teeth

One of the most common health problems faced by hamsters is overgrown teeth. Teeth can become overgrown when hamsters don't use them enough, whether chewing hard food or chewing on things like wood and cardboard. Their teeth are growing all the time, whether they use them or not, and if they don't wear down fast enough, this can quickly become a problem.

Overgrown front teeth can quickly become misaligned, which means they grow too long and actually start to crook. They can also puncture the gums or mouth and may even cause abscesses or infections.

The cheek teeth will also be full, but it is difficult for the owner to judge whether they are too long by looking at these teeth. Overgrown cheek teeth can cause a variety of problems; including catching the tongue and interfering with the cheek pouches. Tongue entrapment occurs when the cheek teeth grow so long that they actually prevent the tongue from moving, which can seriously affect a hamster's ability to eat. Because hamsters have cheek pouches next to their cheek teeth, overgrown cheek teeth can actually tear the cheek pouch and potentially lead to infection.

dental caries

Hamsters spend most of their lives chewing with their cheek teeth. The cheek teeth are close together and it is not uncommon for food to get lodged between or behind them. As a result, hamsters are prone to caries (tooth decay). If left untreated, caries can eat away at the teeth and may even lead to infection or abscesses. If you suspect your hamster has any dental problems, be sure to consult a veterinary professional right away.

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prevention

Hamster Teeth - Hamster Chews
Hamsters need a proper diet and plenty of chewing to maintain good dental health

© sirabhop/Shutterstock.com

There are two things that are extremely important to your pet hamster in order to maintain good dental health throughout their life.

First, the owner should provide a suitable diet consisting mainly of seeds and hamster formula pellets. Hamsters can also be fed produce and fresh vegetables, but these foods should be given in small amounts as treats and should not make up a majority of the hamster's diet. Sugary foods should also be avoided as they can cause dental caries.

Second, hamsters love to bite things. This means they need more than food in their pens; they need blocks of wood too. The best place to buy these materials is at a pet store, where you can find pet-safe, non-toxic wood blocks specially formulated for hamster teeth.

Preventing dental problems in pet hamsters is fairly simple with proper diet and chewing supplements, but dental disease can still occur. Most problems can be treated by a veterinary specialist who can file or even extract problem teeth.

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Hamster Teeth - Yellow Teeth

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about the author

Brandi Allred


Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She has degrees in English and Anthropology and writes horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in her spare time.

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