Even the most devoted pet owners often have one oversight when it comes to caring for their pets, and that is oral hygiene. It is so easy to forget that your pet needs their teeth to be cleaned too, especially when you are already doing so much to care for your pet.
This isn’t neglectful, but you should try to clean your pet’s teeth as much as possible to ensure that they remain healthy.
This is particularly important in hedgehogs, even though their sharp little teeth are something that you might try to avoid coming into contact with.
Due to this, lots of hedgehog parents avoid keeping up their hedgehog’s dental hygiene until they see there is a problem. But, it is much better to prevent the issue than fix it once it occurs.
In this handy guide, we’ll be taking a look at why hedgehog dental hygiene is so important, and how to care for your hedgehog’s teeth. So, to find out more, keep on reading.
Important Facts about Hedgehog Teeth
But first, let’s take a look at some important facts that you should know about your hedgehog’s teeth. To truly understand how to care for your hedgehog’s teeth, it is very important that you know this information:
- Hedgehogs cut their milk/baby teeth by the age of 18-23 days.
- These baby teeth fall out and are replaced with adult teeth by the age of 9 weeks.
- You likely will not feel your hedgehog’s baby teeth, and also won’t notice them falling out because they are so small.
- Hedgehogs have between 36-44 permanent teeth.
- A hedgehog’s teeth are very similar to human teeth, with a mixture of premolars, molars, canines, and incisors.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the common problems that hedgehogs experience with their teeth.
Common Hedgehog Teeth Problems
You will usually be able to tell that your hedgehog has a problem with their teeth as they begin to struggle/avoid chewing or have swelling across their jawline, and lips.
If you see these signs, there could be lots of things bothering your hedgehog, but these are some of the most common hedgehog teeth problems.
Gingivitis – One of the most common dental problems that hedgehogs, and lots of other pets, experience, is Gingivitis. This is a periodontal disease that can easily be treated.
However, if it is not caught early on, and the condition goes untreated, it can lead to your hedgehog losing its adult teeth. This is because untreated Gingivitis can advance into periodontitis, which causes tooth loss. This is the most common cause of tooth problems in hedgehogs.
Neoplasms – A rarer condition that can cause dental issues for your hedgehog is neoplasms. Unlike Gingivitis, neoplasms are often untreatable, and it is a condition that is a lot more malignant.
Neoplasms are abnormal cell growths in your hedgehog’s mouth, and they are often cancerous. In most cases, these cancerous cells are something called squamous cell carcinoma. Sadly, this is a terminal condition, but it is much less common than Gingivitis as a cause of tooth problems.
How to Care for your Hedgehog’s Teeth at Home
To avoid your hedgehog developing any unpleasant dental conditions, you must maintain their dental hygiene. Obviously, brushing their teeth with a toothbrush isn’t going to be easy, but thankfully, there are lots of other ways to care for your hedgehog’s teeth at home.
Feed them Crunchy Food
This is a debate that is common in the pet community, but studies suggest that hard and crunchy food is much better for your pet’s dental hygiene than soft or wet food.
Of course, if your hedgehog has already lost teeth, then soft food will be the most appropriate option. But, if your hedgehog still has all of their adult teeth intact, then you should feed them hard and crunchy cat food.
The crunchiness will help prevent tartar buildup and will clean their teeth as they eat, therefore improving their dental hygiene.
Brush Their Teeth
As we have said, this isn’t the easiest option, but it is a great way of improving your hedgehog’s dental health. You should never use human toothpaste, and a human toothbrush isn’t that great either.
Instead, you should use a chicken-flavored pet toothpaste and a cotton bud. The cotton bud will be the perfect size for your hedgehog’s teeth, and they will find the flavored toothpaste yummy.
These two factors together should reduce the risk of you being bitten, allowing you to improve your hedgehog’s oral hygiene without any harm coming to you.
Complete Regular Physical Exams
The best way to monitor your hedgehog’s dental health is to literally monitor it. To do this, we would recommend doing regular physical exams on your hedgehog’s mouth.
This is, of course, easier said than done because hedgehogs do bite, so they definitely will not enjoy you fiddling about in their mouth.
To avoid being bitten, we recommend opening your hedgehog’s mouth with a popsicle stick, rather than your fingers. This allows you to see inside their mouth without the risk of being bitten.
When to Visit the Vets
While you can do a lot to help your hedgehog’s teeth at home, if your hedgehog is experiencing pain in their teeth, there will come a time when you need to visit the vet.
It is easy to jump to the worst-case scenario, but your hedgehog could simply have irritated gums and teeth because their teeth need a deep clean by a vet.
If your hedgehog goes off of their food or starts having visible swelling in their mouth area, it is best to visit the vets as soon as possible. That way, any issues can be caught, and hopefully resolved early on, before the pain becomes too great.
In short, this has been a complete guide to how to care for your hedgehog’s teeth, including important facts, common dental problems, and the best ways to improve their oral hygiene.
Oral health is important for all animals, so if you want to improve your hedgehog’s dental health, then keep on reading.