Guinea pig teeth grow continuously, which means they require special care and attention. Most importantly, they must be kept at an appropriate length. Knowing of specific conditions, including broken teeth or malocclusion, can help prevent or halt problems and allow for proper care of the guinea pig. Providing certain toys and food, doing frequent mouth checks and having a specialized vet are some ways to help keep the teeth in good shape. This plays a huge part in the guinea pig getting adequate nutrition and maintaining good health.
The teeth in the front, also known as the incisors, must come together and not curve. This formation of the guinea pig's teeth help the animal properly grasp food. When they don't evenly meet, the teeth can grow at an angle, become pointed and uneven and overgrow.
Malocclusion is when the teeth don't meet evenly and don't allow for a proper bite. Signs of this condition include the mouth hanging open slightly, weight loss and difficulty eating or not eating at all. The vet can usually trim the teeth — including the molars in the back if necessary — to alleviate the discomfort.
Broken teeth, which can happen due to an accident, chewing or fall, are another issue that can affect guinea pig teeth. When this happens, it's vital to keep a close watch to make sure the guinea pig can still eat properly, and it may require you to chop up the food. If there is a hole as a result of the broken tooth, call the vet to get advice on how to handle the individual situation. The tooth will typically grow back within a few weeks.
Biting and gnawing helps to keep guinea pig teeth even and at a good level. Branches, chewing toys and abrasive foods can help the teeth wear down naturally. If there are any issues that require the teeth to be trimmed, including severely broken or curved teeth, make sure to go to a vet specialized in dealing with guinea pig teeth.
Issues regarding guinea pig teeth can cause the animal to have poor nutrition. They can eventually stop eating, which may result in starvation. Become familiar with how your guinea pig typically eats and do a daily check of the teeth to ensure they are in good condition. It's also advantageous to weigh the animal every week — changes in weight can signify a problem that requires a vet's attention.