New Pets Cards N°08. Dental Malocclusion of the Chinchilla

Malocclusion is one of the most common dental diseases in rodents. Their teeth grow constantly, hence the origin of the problem. Malocclusion can be defined by misalignment of teeth, incisors, molars or premolars, which prevents normal wear and tear of the teeth. The teeth, and / or the roots of the teeth, grow incessantly, which often leads to the death of the animal.

The causes :

The causes of this disease are many and sometimes it is impossible to determine their exact origin. Two categories of causes are visible: acquired and hereditary.

Different types of malocclusion:


Poor nutrition can cause this disease. A chinchilla that has as food a mixture of pellets and too many sweet treats will sort its food to eat only what it feels like. Moreover, these seed mixtures are far too rich in starch and cruelly lack vitamins, proteins and calcium. He will also ingest too much sugar and not enough of the good elements necessary for the good maintenance of his teeth.
Lack of hay is also a trigger. The chinchilla consumes a lot for the transit but also for the wear of its molars and premolars. Without hay, the teeth do not wear out enough, which can lead to malocclusion.

Calcium deficiency will also lead to malocclusion. Obviously in chinchillas with poor diet, this problem will cause decalcification of the roots of the teeth. This cause is also common in females who reproduce too often (this is why females should be reproduced only once a year). During pregnancy, prospective babies can be trained in the calcium of the mother and the mother becomes deficient. Since calcium is essential to the health of teeth, this deficiency causes malocclusion. Moreover, these exhausted females will transmit the malocclusion to their young, which will transmit it to other generations, and so on.

Food or other foreign matter may also get caught between the teeth. This kind of problem can deflect a tooth that will no longer be aligned with its counterpart.

Trauma may also result in malocclusion. If a chinchilla falls, bumps the jaw, it is possible that the shock deflects one or several teeth.


Some chinchillas are born with misaligned teeth, which presupposes a bad genetics in relation to this aspect.

This disease can therefore be genetic. Moreover, it is recessive, which makes it possible for a chinchilla to carry the malocclusion without showing its signs, just as a chinchilla can carry a mutation without showing on the phenotype.

Affected teeth:

Malocclusion can affect all teeth and in different ways.

When the incisors are touched, the lower teeth grow upward, can bend and damage the palate. The upper teeth could pierce the lower lip. The chinchilla can no longer take food with its teeth and stops feeding.

When the molars and premolars are affected, they will deflect and injure the tongue and cheeks. The lacerations generated by the teeth will be very painful and will cause abscesses.

It is also possible that the problem comes from a shoot of the roots of the teeth. If it is the roots of the maxillary teeth (upper jaw), these roots will block the lacrimal duct. There will be a strong pressure on the eye, which will cause a flow in the eye. The roots of the mandible, if not treated in time, may push on the bones of the jaw and break it.

Symptoms :

The most noticeable symptoms are:

Weight loss:
The chinchilla experiences pain when eating, so it eats less and much more slowly. It reduces its granules in powder. This causes weight loss. The animal eats its head inclined and often carries its paws to its mouth.

Less hay consumption:
Eating hay is the activity that most excites the work of the molars. If these teeth are affected, this is the first thing the chinchilla will stop eating.

He drools :
When there are wounds in the mouth, the swallowing movement becomes more painful. Rather than swallowing his saliva, the chinchilla reached will remain motionless and drool will simply flow through the mouth. Its front legs, chin and torso will be damp and the hair will be in poor condition. If your chinchilla is at this stage, it is because the disease has already progressed a lot.


The eyes are watery:
When the problem comes from the root of the teeth of the maxilla, the eye is often moist, watery. The chinchilla will have the hair around the wet and damp eye.

A bump on the lower jaw:
The roots of the teeth of the mandible will create bumps that will be palpable to the touch. It is a matter of feeling the underside of the lower jaw to feel them.

What are the solutions ?

The first thing to do is to contact your breeder and tell him / her about the situation. A good breeder will remove from breeding the affected line if the disease is of genetic origin.

For the incisors, it is easy to detect the problem. For molars and premolars, often a good mouth examination will allow the diagnosis. If the problem comes from the roots, it will take an x-ray of the skull to see the abnormal growth.

Anyway, if you have any doubts, go to your veterinarian NAC (new pets) as soon as possible so that he can find the source of the problem.

The treatment :

It is relatively easy for the veterinarian to cut or file the incisors of the chinchilla. However, it should be taken into account that this treatment is only temporary if the cause is genetic and must be repeated about every 2 months. The frequency with which the teeth will be filed varies from one animal to another. When a chinchilla changes its feed for better, it often happens that the needs of the image are wider over time. It is also likely that the chinchilla develops a malocclusion of the molars or premolars, which will make the size unnecessary.

When it is a question of filing the molars and premolars, this treatment is generally done under gaseous anesthesia. Again, this treatment will be repeated several times.

Some will be able to extract the affected teeth, but this remains a very risky practice, not very recommended, and little used because it is possible, by extracting the tooth, to break either part of the jaw. But if another tooth develops the problem, this treatment too will have been useless.

During treatment, the chinchilla needs to be force-fed regularly to regain the weight it has lost. In some cases, he will also need antibiotics if abscesses have been formed or if he has suffered injuries to the cheek, palate or lips.

Many times, chinchillas owners who suffer from malocclusion choose euthanasia. It is very difficult to make this decision, but the pain caused by this disease can be difficult to bear for the animal and its owner, and as the outcome of treatments is uncertain, putting an end to your pet's suffering can be considered.

Can my chinchilla cure?

Nothing is less certain. On the other hand, in recent years, there has been considerable progress in this area. The techniques developed by veterinarians are more appropriate. In some clinics, there is even a molar size without gas anesthesia. With all this progress, we are allowed to hope in front of an animal suffering from malocclusion if his case is diagnosed soon enough. What is certain is that the treatment is costly in time and money.