Unless they’re eating or gaping, you’ll rarely see the inside of a bearded dragon’s mouth. That’s why it’s no surprise that most of us are unaware of what the inside of a bearded dragon’s mouth looks like. I mean, do they have teeth? If yes, what do they look like?
Today, I’m giving you a closer look inside a bearded dragon’s mouth. I will start by answering if they have teeth, then proceed to bearded dragon’s dental care.
Read on to learn all these and more.
Do Bearded Dragons Have Teeth?
Yes, bearded dragons have small fascinating teeth. These reptiles prey on insects and worms, so they need sharp teeth to do the work. Though they are hardly noticeable, your beardie has a mouthful of sharp tiny teeth.
Interestingly, bearded dragons’ teeth are fused to the jaw bone and closer to their gums’ surface. So unlike humans, bearded dragons lack tooth sockets.
Like most reptiles, beardies have simple dentitions in a conical shape. Their teeth are loosely attached, especially since they belong to the acrodont species.
With time, bearded dragons’ teeth wear out and become part of the jaw bone. Initially, it was believed that these teeth didn’t regrow. However, a study on vertebrate tooth renewal revealed that beardies regrow some but not all of their teeth.
Like other multicellular organisms, bearded dragons can repair damaged tissues and regrow worn-out body parts. However, the number of times multicellular organisms can do that varies between species.
Recent studies in regrowing teeth show that teeth regeneration relies on the dental lamina. Most animal species that regrow their teeth have a dental lamina that grows beyond already existing teeth to create where the replacement will emerge.
Studies around the bearded dragon tooth revealed special features of the dental lamina. Remember that bearded dragons regenerate some but not all of their teeth. According to the tooth renewal study, this results from previously uncharacterized genes in the dental lamina that determine if a tooth can be regrown or not.
Further experiments show that beardies use two different groups of stem cells to develop cell types that regenerate their teeth. The experiments reveal how beardies use previously unknown mechanisms to regrow some of their teeth, thus canceling the initial belief that bearded dragons don’t regrow their teeth.
How Many Teeth do Beardies have?
Bearded dragons can have a maximum of 80 teeth in their tiny mouths. However, this number varies greatly depending on species and other factors.
Generally, a bearded dragon will have 13 to 18 teeth on every side of the lower jaw and 11 to 17 on every side of the upper jaw. In addition, they will have four other pleurodont teeth on both the upper and lower jaw.
The 13 to 18 teeth on the lower jaw and the 11 to 17 teeth on the upper jaw are what we call acrodont teeth (covered in the next subtopic).
If you do the math, there can be more than 75 teeth in a bearded dragon’s mouth.
Types of bearded dragon’s teeth
Bearded dragons have teeth running around their jaws, forming a “U” shape. Each tooth has a hard enamel coating covering a body of dentin. The tooth’s interior is soft and consists of nerve and blood vessels with pulp.
The pulp supplies blood and nutrients to the tooth keeping it alive. The two types of teeth in bearded dragons include:
As already mentioned, bearded dragons have four teeth on the upper and lower jaw. These teeth are called pleurodonts and are often used to tear insects and worms.
Pleurodont teeth are connected to the periosteum on the surface of the maxillae and mandibles. This attachment is vital as it helps with the regeneration of pleurodont teeth in case they break.
The number of pleurodont teeth in bearded dragons (4) is far less than in acrodont teeth. There are two at the front in the upper jaw and another two at the front in the lower jaw.
These teeth have longer roots and are safely attached to the jaw bone. The four pleurodont teeth in bearded dragons appear like tiny front fangs and resemble the incisors of a cat. If this type of tooth breaks or wears off, a similar one regenerates in the same spot.
Acrodont teeth take the larger space in a bearded dragon’s mouth. Assuming a bearded dragon has 76 teeth, 72 of them are acrodont teeth.
Acrodont teeth are more pointy and are used to chew food. They are located on the sides of the upper and lower jaw. Unfortunately, these teeth don’t last long as they have shorter roots and are loosely attached to the jawbone.
Unlike pleurodont, they are more prone to breakage. Again, they don’t regenerate once they break or get lost. Maybe that’s why they are greater in number, as beardies can use the remaining after breakage.
However, juvenile beardies may grow more acrodont teeth provided there’s enough space in their jaws. This ensures they still have more left to chew food once they lose some of their acrodont teeth.
Baby Dragons Teeth
Bearded dragons are born with a mouth full of teeth. They have the tiniest yet sharpest teeth that are hardly noticeable.
Hatchling beardies have four pleurodont teeth, one in each jaw quadrant. They also have one central egg tooth, which projects forward in the midline of the premaxilla. This tooth is replaced with a regular pleurodont with time.
Baby dragons have seven posterior triangular acrodont teeth connected to each jaw quadrant. These teeth are attached to the jaw bone. The most anterior tooth spots on the premaxilla and dentary are filled with pleurodont teeth.
Unlike humans, there’s not much difference between baby dragons’ teeth and those of adult bearded dragons. They both have two types, acrodont and pleurodont teeth. However, the number of these teeth may vary with age.
They also take different shapes and may be smaller in baby dragons, of course, relative to their size.
Taking Care of Bearded Dragons Teeth
As a responsible bearded dragon owner, you should take care of your bearded dragon’s teeth as you take care of yours.
Their dental care begins with what they eat. They should eat healthy food that contributes to healthy dental care. Besides, they need both soft and crunchy food to help clean and strengthen their teeth.
However, it should not be so hard to chew that it breaks their acrodont teeth. Remember, these teeth are more prone to breakage because they have shorter roots. And since they don’t regenerate, you should prevent breakage at all costs.
Like our human teeth, bearded dragon teeth are prone to dental disease. Too much sugar also affects their teeth and may impact their oral health. They need fewer sugary food items and more calcium-rich foods to help their dental health.
With a proper diet, you can avoid bearded dragon dental problems. To start with, ensure young dragons eat more “hard” insects and fewer leafy greens. Young beardies are more carnivorous and switch to plant-based diets as they grow.
As for adult beardies, feed them more plants and fewer insects. At this age, their diet should be 80% plants. I cannot insist on this enough. Proper dental care in bearded dragons begins with a healthy diet.
Common bearded dragon dental problems
Pet dragons are more prone to dental problems compared to bearded dragons in the wild. Some of the common dental problems include:
Gingivitis is a condition that causes inflamed gums. In extreme cases, the gums recess, exposing the underlying jawbone to inflammation. Often, gingivitis comes before periodontal disease.
Stomatitis, also known as mouth rot, is characterized by jaw swelling, thick cheese-like mucus, and inflamed gums. Sick bearded dragons may also experience bleeding along the jawline and suffer from a bacterial infection.
The primary cause of periodontal disease is poor dental care. When you neglect your bearded dragon’s teeth, plaque builds up, causing gum inflammation and severe infection. This, in turn, develops into serious gum line recession and swelling of the gums and jaw bone.
Proper Dental Care: Can you Brush Bearded Dragons Teeth?
Yes, you can practice proper dental care by brushing your bearded dragon as often as every day.
There is no harm in doing it daily, provided you are using a soft, moistened Q-tip. Your vet should guide you on cleaning your bearded dragon’s teeth. He or she may recommend using plain water or a special solution with harmless ingredients.
Apart from cleaning, observe healthy diets that support dental health. In addition, take your pet to a veterinarian for a regular dental check-up. You should also pay attention to your pet’s well-being in general, including their dental health.
If you notice difficulty chewing, take a closer look and consult your vet for a professional opinion. Examine the mouth while focusing on the teeth, gums, and tongue. You can do this when cleaning their teeth.
For an easier time cleaning your beardie’s mouth, build a strong bond so he trusts you enough to allow you to clean his teeth. Regular check-ups, cleaning, and a healthy diet will help prevent dental diseases.
Bearded dragons do have teeth. Their teeth are generally small and sharp, so they may be hard to notice, especially since bearded dragons rarely open their mouths.
Dragons can have up to 80 teeth in their mouth, depending on their species. They have two types of teeth, pleurodont and acrodont. Each type performs a different function in terms of chewing and tearing food.
Like humans, bearded dragons are also prone to dental diseases. The typical dental problems in bearded dragons include stomatitis, periodontal disease, and gingivitis. However, you can easily avoid these diseases with proper dental care.
Work with your vet to keep your pet’s teeth healthy.