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Chinchilla Teeth: Size, Growth, Care, and Vital Information

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Chinchilla teeth never stop growing. Chinchillas must constantly chew to trim their teeth as overgrown teeth can be harmful.

Chinchillas make excellent pets. Caring for them does not require much effort. They run, jump, nibble, and chew. Chinchillas chew all the time. Like all rodents, they have teeth to help them chew and break down food effectively.

This article talks about the two types of chinchilla teeth and what dental issues they usually face.

Chinchilla Teeth

Chinchillas usually have 20 teeth at birth. Their teeth are open-rooted, which means that they continue to grow indefinitely.

Teeth CharacteristicsChinchillas
TypesInsciors, Molars, Premolars
ColorDark Orange
Length6 to 8 mm
Annual Growth2 to 3 inches

Chinchillas belong to the family Rodentia which includes several other animals:

  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Hamsters
  • Degus
  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Beavers, among others

All of these animals have open rooted teeth which never stop growing[1] and chinchillas are no different. 

Ever-growing teeth pose a significant health risk. If they aren’t kept at pay, chinchillas will experience dental issues.

As chinchilla teeth grow, they can become unevenly worn and torn, which hinders proper chewing. To prevent that, they must chew constantly. This activity trims the teeth down to a safe size and keeps chins healthy.

Chinchillas Teeth
Image Source

How Many Teeth Do Chinchillas Have?

Chinchillas are born with teeth. They have 20 teeth, out of which four are front incisors while the other 16 are back molars.

All the chewing power of a chinchilla comes from its 20 teeth.

A healthy chinchilla should have dark orange teeth, which indicates a high concentration of calcium. Yellow or white teeth are signs of a calcium deficiency which should be treated as soon as possible.[2]

Chinchillas have a hard enamel on their teeth made of iron, phosphorous, calcium, and other minerals. Like beavers, it gives them durable and tough teeth, suited for an animal that always chews.

An inappropriate diet can result in dental issues, which can be fatal.

Types of Teeth and Their Uses

Unlike humans, chinchillas have two types of teeth they use to chew food:

  • Incisors
  • Molars and premolars

Incisors are long front teeth and are easily visible when chins open their mouth. They are used to cut food into smaller, easily chewable fragments. The molars then chew the food particles and grind them before they are gulped down the esophagus.

Chinchillas have no canines as they are purely herbivorous and do not need pointed teeth. A chinchilla tooth is usually six to eight mm in length.

The two sets of teeth are separated by a gap called the diastema. This allows them to decide whether to chew the food or to throw it out.

Chinchilla Types of Teeth and Their Uses

How Fast Do Chinchilla Teeth Grow?

Chinchilla’s teeth grow extremely fast. The average growth rate of a chinchilla tooth is around two to three inches every year.

Like human fingernails, chinchilla teeth should be of proper length to keep them healthy. It is important that chinchillas trim their teeth continuously, as with such a high growth rate, the teeth can become too long, impacting proper chewing.

Common Chinchilla Dental Problems

Malocclusion, tooth elongation, and tooth loss are some of the major dental problems faced by chinchillas. Regular filing can keep their teeth within a safe length so they can chew better.

Chinchilla’s teeth extend beyond the gum if left unfiled. Overly grown teeth can bend and hit their lips. Long teeth also make it difficult to eat food. They block their jaw mechanism.

This can lead to another problem which is overgrowing molars. 

Since the molars are dependent on chewing food to trim their teeth, less or improper eating can make them grow bigger and bigger until their crowns hit the chinchilla cheeks damaging them.

Here are the most important issues to be aware of:

  • Malocclusion
  • Tooth elongation
  • Tooth loss

Related: Are Chinchillas Easy to Take Care Of?

Malocclusion

Chinchilla Malocclusion
Image Source

Malocclusion is a dangerous dental condition that can affect any chinchilla regardless of its breed[3]. It is mostly genetic and is acquired via either parent.

This disease causes the misalignment of the upper and lower teeth, heavily impacting the chewing process. Chinchillas with malocclusion face trouble biting or chewing. 

When the roots of a tooth grow at an angle instead of vertical, it can lead to root elongation, which is deadly.

Malocclusion causes the roots to grow to the eye socket and jawbone, which can be fatal. This condition can be avoided if it is diagnosed early but is not treatable if the cause is genetic.

Tooth Elongation

Tooth elongation is another dangerous dental condition that causes a single tooth to outgrow the other, making the teeth uneven. Chinchillas with elongated teeth feel pain when biting anything because of the uneven surface of their teeth.

Sufficient trimming can reduce the length of the overgrown tooth and help your chin eat properly. 

Regular visits to the vet to file the tooth are vital when dealing with this issue.

Tooth Loss

In the absence of a single tooth, the opposite tooth can grow longer due to less filing. A trauma or a fall which hits a chinchilla tooth can damage the nerve endings of the tooth, and it will start to decay.

To avoid this, keep your chinchilla on a healthy and stable diet and avoid giving it sugars as they are deadly. Keep the surfaces, ladders, and ledges inside the cage properly fixed, so chinchillas do not fall off and break their teeth.

Conclusion

Chinchilla’s teeth continue to grow for eternity. They should be filed to keep chinchillas safe and aid in proper chewing. Without the right-sized teeth, chins can have a hard time breaking food down and eating, resulting in malnutrition.

You should always be on the lookout for potential dental issues and take your chinchilla to a vet in case you notice anything strange in their teeth.

FAQs

Do Chinchillas Have Baby Teeth?

No, chinchillas are monophyodonts. This means that chins only get one set of teeth in their life. Baby chinchillas are born with all 20 teeth in their mouth. If any of these teeth fall off, another does not take its place. Therefore, dental care is important for them.

Can You Trim a Chinchilla’s Teeth?

Yes, you can trim a chinchilla tooth, but it is advisable to have a certified vet file them for you. Incisors are easy to trim but properly trimming molars requires dental equipment, which is usually not available at home.

Why Does My Chinchilla Grind His Teeth?

Chinchillas grind their teeth to show several emotions. The most common emotion is boredom. They make grinding sounds with their teeth when they are bored or crave interaction. Happiness, annoyance, pain, and stress are other reasons why your chinchilla is grinding his teeth.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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