Yes, bearded dragons have teeth. Their teeth average around 80 in total, and some regrow throughout the reptile’s life when they fall out. In fact, these reptiles have one of the highest abilities in regenerating teeth. As with human beings, beardies also have dental and mouth problems and need ideal care.
Teeth are vital to most animals as it helps them grasp, grind, or break down the food. Let us look at bearded dragons’ teeth, the number, dental problems, and tips on how to take care of your bearded dragon’s teeth effectively.
Types of Bearded Dragons Teeth
Bearded dragons have two distinct types of teeth; the acrodont and the pleurodont. The number and shape of these two types of teeth differ.
While the acrodont teeth are more in number and triangular, the pleurodont teeth are few and even or unevenly shaped depending on the size of the beardie species.
These reptiles lack teeth sockets that anchor the teeth into the jaw bone in other animals. As such, most of their teeth are prone to breaking due to a lack of a firm anchor, and some also fall off or break easily.
Teeth are vital for a beardie, especially in ingestion. The lizards can genetically regenerate some of their teeth throughout their life to ensure that they can eat and remain alive.
While the ability to regrow some of their teeth is not unique to bearded dragons only, these lizards have the highest capability to generate their teeth compared to other animals that do this too.
Bearded Dragons’ Acrodont Teeth
These are the majority of teeth in a bearded dragon. The triangular shape of the lizard’s acrodont teeth facilitates grinding food for easier swallowing and digestion. However, these teeth are not long-lasting owing to their short roots.
Another reason why acrodont teeth in bearded dragons are not long-lasting is that they are not securely attached to the beardies’ jaw bone. The lack of secure attachment and a short root make them more susceptible to breakage and falling off. In addition, acrodont teeth are more prone to rot and infections.
When acrodont teeth break in adult bearded dragons, they do not grow again. However, other acrodont teeth might grow at the back of either the upper or lower jaw with baby and juvenile beardies, depending on space availability.
Bearded Dragons’ Pleurodont Teeth
Pleurodont teeth are the minority teeth in a bearded dragon and are located on the upfront part of the lizard’s upper and lower jaw. They are more firmly attached to the jawbone and have longer roots than the acrodont teeth.
These teeth look like fangs, and when they break, new ones grow in the same space as the older ones. Pleurodont teeth regenerate in both baby and mature beardies.
How Many Teeth Do Bearded Dragons Have?
On average, these lizards have between 11 and 17 acrodont teeth on each side of the upper jaw and between 13 and 20 on each side of the lower jaw. As for the pleurodont teeth, beardies have a total of 4 on the lower and upper jaw.
The average total number of teeth in a beardie is about 80. However, this number might significantly reduce in older bearded dragons since, upon maturity of the lizard, the acrodont teeth do not regrow upon falling off.
A reducing number of teeth in older bearded dragons can significantly affect their diet by reducing the number of items the beardie can eat.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Need Teeth?
These reptiles are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and vegetables. Some of the best and safe vegetables for bearded dragons include collard greens, kale, pumpkin, yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, and celery. On the other hand, a beardie’s best and safe source of animal proteins includes crickets, wax worms, silkworms, earthworms, king worms, and butter worms.
A bearded dragon needs teeth to grasp and hold the insects, and this is primarily the work of pleurodont teeth which are on the upfront part of the upper and lower jaws.
In addition, these lizards use their acrodont teeth, which are triangular, for grinding the food.
Besides the strategic shape of the teeth, beardies have strong jaws that also aid in the functioning of the teeth.
Strong jaws enable them to hold and crush hard-shelled prey such as beetles for easier grinding, swallowing, and digestion.
Common Teeth Problems in Bearded Dragons
Just like humans, beardies too are susceptible to teeth problems. Let’s look at some of the most common teeth problems with these reptiles and their causes.
1. Periodontal Disease
As the name suggests, this is a dental disease that surrounds the teeth. It is pretty common in captive lizards, and it results from plaque build-up, which worsens gingivitis. The bacteria around the dirty teeth build-ups, and this prolonged exposure causes infection and inflammation in the beardies teeth and gum.
Causes of bearded dragon periodontal disease have been associated with nutrition and hereditary reasons. Even so, it is becoming an increasingly common challenge with pet beardies.
Signs of periodontal disease include loss of appetite, bone exposure, plaque build-up, receding gum line, lost teeth, black or brown teeth, mouth inflammation, dehydration, and lethargy.
Periodontal diseases take place in 5 stages, with the initial stage being minimal brown discoloration on the teeth. If you notice this, ensure to brush the pet’s teeth once or twice a week.
The next stage of this dental disease in the bearded dragon is worsening of the brown discoloration as it affects more teeth. Its gums also become red as tartar build-up also makes the teeth appear yellow.
The third stage of periodontal disease in bearded dragons is increasing tartar build-up. Besides regularly brushing the beardie’s teeth, you would also need to have the teeth undergo anesthetized dental cleaning.
Extreme tartar build-up marks the fourth stage of this disease. It is coupled with jaw bone infection and recession of the gingival. Due to the severity of the illness at this stage, you would need to administer antibiotics to the bearded dragon, regularly brush their teeth, and anesthetized cleaning.
The final stage of periodontal disease is severe jaw bone infection to the extent that the jaw bone dies and might break off. An effective remedy at this advanced stage would require that you take the pet to a vet who may recommend long-term antibiotics treatment, dental cleaning, or, in severe cases, humane euthanasia.
Also known as gum inflammation, gingivitis refers to the gradual accumulation of bacteria or plaque on the pet’s teeth.
Minimal gingivitis is not harmful to beardies; however, it can cause severe gum illnesses in extreme cases. The advanced stage of this dental disease is very painful and can expose the reptile to infections. Your bearded dragon might find it hard to eat food and even drink water.
One of the most common effects of severe gingivitis is periodontal disease. Other effects include teeth loss and sensitivity, gum recession, and loss of appetite.
Mouth rot should not be taken lightly. It can lead to teeth loss, bleeding gums, loss of appetite, and bloating. Check the mouth of the reptile for rotting teeth or white pus. When detected early, mouth rot can be treated at home with Betadine.
4. Calculus Deposits
Plaque is a sticky film that carries bacteria and forms on the teeth’s surface. Its accumulation leads to calculus deposition. The longer it remains on the teeth’s surface, the harder it becomes to remove and increases the chances of teeth problems.
Calculus deposits are harmful and hard to remove. They cause damage to the gum and teeth and, in severe cases, might require the vet to put your bearded dragon under anesthesia so as to remove the calculus.
It is one of the most painful dental diseases for a bearded dragon, and it refers to the separation of the teeth from the jaw bone. As a result, the beardie’s gum is left exposed in areas that should be covered. The disease makes the jaw vulnerable to infections.
Common Causes of Teeth Problems in Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons do not have very firm teeth. They easily break, lose and damage their teeth, with the acrodont teeth being the most susceptible. Even so, there are factors that can make this worse for the lizard.
Here are the major factors that cause tooth damage in bearded dragon’s mouth.
1. Poor Diet
An improper diet is one of the leading causes of dental problems in bearded dragons. Giving the beardie lots of soft food contributes to the reptile developing these diseases. Such foods include mangoes, eggs, hornworms, peaches, sweet potatoes, silkworms, and wax worms.
In addition, many sugary foods lead to plaque build-up, which results in gum disease and tooth decay. Another dietary contributing factor in the bearded dragon’s dental diseases is bugs like woodworms and butter worms. These bugs contribute to plague build-up because they get stuck in the gums and form a thick film of bacteria. Prolonged bacteria build-up and plaque build-up leads to dental diseases.
Another contributing factor is nutrition which has too little calcium and micronutrients. Calcium is vital for the bones’ growth, development, and health; a deficiency can lead to dental illnesses.
A poor diet can also contribute to compromised immunity.
Incidents such as accidentally hitting the beardies teeth, falling, fights with another beardie, or another pet can lead to gum diseases. Several beardies in the same tank can fight for food, mark territory, or show dominance. Stress can also make beardies bang their heads, leading to teeth damage, among other problems.
The trauma may cause the jaw or teeth to break, making it vulnerable to deadly infections. Another source of trauma to the teeth in bearded dragons is being given food that is too hard.
3. Poor Lighting
Ideal lighting ensures that your bearded dragon’s teeth remain healthy. You need to set up the lighting well, and in addition, you should ensure that the light source produces enough light.
Proper UVB lighting promotes calcium absorption by the bearded dragon. Further, poor lighting means that the reptile does not bask effectively, ultimately affecting digestion. Poor digestion affects nutrients absorption, which eventually affects the health of various body parts, including teeth.
Tips on How to Care for a Bearded Dragon’s Mouth Hygiene
If you are wondering, do I need to clean my bearded dragon’s teeth and mouth? The answer is Yes! While most people understand the importance of removing plaque and tartar build-up in other pets, such as cats, they assume that this is not necessary for bearded dragons. However, it is absolutely necessary that you give your pet beardie proper dental care.
Here are effective oral hygiene care tips for a bearded dragon that will act as preventive measures.
1. Provide Proper Diet
A bearded dragon’s diet needs to include a mixture of crunchy and soft foods, and you should not give the reptile soft foods alone. Crunchy food options include crunchy vegetables, Dubia roaches, locusts, carrots, bell peppers, crickets, cockroaches, acorn squash, and collard greens.
Another thing you should do is limit the amounts of sugary items such as fruits that you provide the beardie. Such items contribute to teeth decay. Furthermore, you should also ensure that the beardie gets sufficient minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. You can also give the beardie calcium supplements to ensure that it gets enough.
2. Conducive Environment
A poor environment can make a bearded dragon stressed. By providing the reptile with proper habitat, you limit the stress factors that might make the beardie bang its head or fight with others in the habitat.
Besides poor housing, other things that make a bearded dragon pet stressed include seeing their reflection in the mirror, having little space, and lacking digging space.
3. Provide Proper UVB Lighting
UVB light affects the beardie’s ability to absorb calcium, and it also affects digestion. Therefore, it is important that you provide the beardie with proper UVB lighting, including an ideal setup, using appropriate bulbs, and a conducive basking area.
4. Regularly Examine the Teeth
Another tip is to check the state of the teeth frequently. It would be best to look out for abnormalities such as brown and black discoloration, bleeding gums, missing teeth, plaque, tartar build-up, and food stuck in the teeth. While some of these, such as food stuck between the teeth, are normal, others, such as black discoloration on the teeth and bleeding gums, are a cause for alarm, and you should immediately contact a professional.
Healing Methods for Bearded Dragon Dental Diseases
The preventive measures will help you provide your beardie with suitable conditions to prevent dental illnesses. However, what should you do if you notice symptoms of dental diseases in your beardie?
Here are healing methods to consider if your bearded dragon shows multiple signs of dental problems.
If the illnesses are in the early stages, you can use home remedies together with the above preventive measures. Clean the beardies’ teeth if you notice plaque build-up; a professional can guide you on how to do this at home. At this stage, cleaning should be done once or twice weekly.
The vet might recommend antibiotics for moderate to advanced cases of dental illness. They might need to put the pet under anesthesia to clean the teeth for severe cases. The administration of antibiotics might follow the cleaning procedure and a lifetime routine monitoring of progress.
Where some of the teeth have undergone irreparable damage or have rotten, the professional might remove the teeth to prevent the spread of the rot to other teeth.
How to Clean a Bearded Dragon’s Teeth
A majority of pet beardies do not brush their beardies’ teeth, and the pets hardly get teeth problems. Even so, it might be necessary in case your beardie has a lot of plaque build-up.
Brushing the beardie’s teeth is a foreign concept to them; therefore, you may expect that the bearded dragon will not be pleased with the experience. Be gentle and cautious since it might bite you if it feels threatened.
How to Brush a Beardie’s Teeth
If you decide to brush the bearded dragon’s teeth, you certainly shouldn’t use a toothbrush and toothpaste as you would a human being. They are too harsh, and the paste can be toxic to the pet.
Get a Q-tip, cotton swab, and Chlorhexidine Solution for the cleaning. Dip the Q-tip or cotton swap in the diluted solution, gently clean the beardie’s mouth, and then scrub the gums and teeth. Avoid applying pressure or forcing the pet to open its mouth. If it hisses or becomes aggressive, stop brushing the teeth and allow it to feed.
Cleaning the bearded dragon’s teeth is unnecessary with effective preventive measures. If you provide it with crunchy foods in between, you need not worry since the food acts as a natural teeth cleanser.
If you are wondering, how often should I clean my bearded dragon’s teeth? The answer is once per month at most if the teeth are healthy. However, if you provide the lizard with soft foods, then you might need to do so more often since soft foods make the beardie’s teeth dirtier. On the other side, if the beardie’s teeth are showing signs of dental diseases, you should clean them once or twice a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Bearded Dragons Bite?
Although rare, bearded dragons can bite. They are not aggressive, but a beardie’s first instinct will be to run away and hide under the threat of a predator. The lizard will only bite as the last self-defense option. It might also bite when it confuses your finger for a worm
The bite of a baby bearded dragon is not very painful because they do not have powerful jaws. On the other hand, mature bearded dragons can cause a painful bite, especially if they are very big. The extent of the bite will depend on the power the beardie’s jaw exerts, but it might be severe enough to require the victim to seek immediate medical attention.
Do Bearded Dragons Have Sharp Teeth?
The degree of the sharpness of a bearded dragon’s teeth differs. Babies and juveniles have sharper teeth than adults. Bearded dragon teeth become blunt with age as the edges become more round due to frequent chewing.
Do Baby Bearded Dragons Have Teeth?
Yes, young bearded dragons have teeth, and they are born with them. Bearded dragons do not nurture their young ones; therefore, baby beardies need to fend for themselves from day 1. Having teeth from the onset aids their survival in the wild.
Bearded dragons have teeth, but their teeth are not rooted in teeth sockets, unlike humans. A bearded dragon teeth are artificially anchored onto the jaw bone, which means they lack firm attachment. The teeth of a bearded dragon are either acrodont or pleurodont.
Acrodont bearded teeth are the majority and do not regrow when they fall off in adults. However, they may regrow at the back of the jaw bone if the beardie is still a baby. Pleurodont teeth are only four, and they regrow through the lizard’s life. These lizards can bite, and their teeth are sharper when younger but become blunter with age due to usage.
As a bearded dragon owner, you need to provide the pet with ideal dental care. While brushing the pet’s teeth is optional, you should avoid extremely sugary foods, too soft foods, and trauma incidents for the beardie. Such measures go a long way in ensuring that the beardie enjoys good dental health.