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Overgrown teeth

A rat's teeth will constantly grow and are normally kept worn down to the correct length by chewing and gnawing activities. In some instances something may go wrong with this process and the rat will get overgrown teeth.

When the teeth of a rat become overgrown it is usually noticed as the incisors start to protrude from the mouth. The rat may be unable to eat properly and may appear to go off its food or become thin. Sometimes bedding material or food may become stuck around the overgrown teeth and this can make the appearance even worse.

The problem occurs when the teeth are not being worn down during the normal eating and chewing activities of the rat. Often this is due to malocclusion of the teeth (the teeth do not meet in the correct way) so the teeth cannot grind on each other and wear each other down.

A simple solution for this problem is to visit your vet who will generally be able to clip the teeth back to the correct length. This procedure is usually quick and painless for the rat and will be carried out without anaesthetic in most cases. Once the teeth have been clipped back the rat will be able to eat once more.

Regular treatment involving the clipping of the teeth may be required if your rat has this problem. Clipping the teeth helps the rat to eat and be more comfortable but does not change the underlying problem of malocclusion.
As the teeth continue to grow the problem will quickly recur. The frequency of teeth clipping required will depend upon your pet, but I would suggest checking your rat for signs of a problem weekly. Your rat may need to visit the vet to have its teeth clipped once a month or so.

Rats with this problem do well as long as the teeth are kept clipped. You could try adding things to gnaw into the cage to help keep the teeth down but this is unlikely to completely resolve the problem. Although it may help to decrease the frequency of visits to the vet for teeth clipping.

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