Dental Diseases


There are several symptoms which can indicate a dental or jaw disease. If you notice all of them or only a few or one, you should carefully observe the chinchilla and bring the animal to a vet.

Possible symptoms:

• watery eye(s)

• weight loss – even though the chin apparently eats

• chin refuses to eat

• noticeable, untypical eating (crumbling, sticks tongue out while chewing, sneezing, rubbing the mouth with paw etc.)

• avoiding hard food like almonds and thicker stems

• prefering soft food like fresh fruit and vegetables, tender herbs, softer seeds

• indications of pain, esp. while eating, but also beyond

• druling; wet spots around the mouth, and later also at the underside

• tilting head while eating

• apathy or/ and aggression

• diarrhea, bloated stomach, constipation


To clarify if your chinchilla suffers from a dental disease you should bring it to a vet specialised in rodent‘s and rabbit‘s dental diseases. First, the vet will have a look into the chin‘s mouth, and possibly detect anomalies. But be careful: dental problems can‘t be excluded in this way! To get a reliable diagnosis the head/ the jaw and the teeth have to be X-rayed. Usually, an anaesthesia isn‘t necessary; an experienced vet will take X-rays quickly without any anaesthesia. With the help of the X-ray pictures, the vet is able to make an accurate diagnosis: too long back teeth or incisors, overbite, abscess, dissolving structures, loose teeth, inflammations, dead teeth, arthrosis, caries etc.

TIP: These X-rays show healthy and pathologic chinchilla dentitions:


Pathogenesis and therapy

Primary malocclusion and dental diseases

Primary dental diseases are hereditary respectively genetically determined tooth or jaw anomalies. Usually, they appear already during the first months of the chinchilla‘s life (in the beginning, they normally are visible only on X-rays). Most „breeders“ don‘t accompany and observe their breeding lines over generations, and they don‘t have X-rays taken of their breeding animals‘ dentition to check if these chinchillas can be further used for breeding. These are the reasons why primary malocclusion is the most common dental anomaly. According to my vet who has a lot of experience in treating chinchillas  in dental restoration, most chins brought to her hospital show dental anomalies, no matter which reason they came for.

Affected animals can‘t be cured, but they can live for months or even years, if they get a proper treatment consisting usually of: regular dental corrections (every 4 weeks to once or twice a year, depending on requirement; it is possible to extend the intervals between the corrections by suitable feeding), administering analgetics (like Metacam) or antibiotics for dental infections as necessary. This treatment should harden teeth and bones, cure infections etc. Depending on the diagnosis it can be necessary to extract one or several teeth. It is important to optimise the feed: chinchilla‘s dental wearing

Info: The back teeth can be trimmed respectively worn without anaesthesia. This is recommanded particularly for cardiac or highly weakend animals. An anaesthesia would be an additional risk. However, few vets correct teeth without anaesthesia. It‘s possibly better for anxious or fidgety animals to be slightly anaesthetised, although my vet never had any problems, even with the twitchiest chins.

healthy chinchilla dentition


Secondary malocclusion and dental diseases

A secondary dental or jaw disease is not inherent but is influenced from the outside. It can appaer at any age. It can be caused by bad nutrition which doesn‘t wear the teeth properly, or by inappropriate feeding while the chin is still growing. Another reason may be a trauma (damage caused by external force), that damaged, e.g. broke, the jaw bone or the tooth. In some cases, a one-time or temporary dental treatment or bigger intervals between corrections will do. Other animals need a treatment on a regular basis or as needed. To optimise the nutrition is important in any case: chinchilla‘s dental wearing

Elderly chinchillas can be affected by dental and jaw diseases, e.g. arthrosis of the jaw joint. The treatment consists of administering Metacam and/or RodiCare Artrin.


ATTENTION: Unfortunately, many vets are still unable to take reasonable X-rays, let alone read or interpret them!


Further tips on the subject