How to Prevent Your Mouse from Developing Overgrown Incisors

Two Parts:Giving Your Mouse Something to Chew OnSeeking Veterinary Assistance

A mouse is born with 1 set of teeth that grows throughout its life.[1] This set of teeth contains a pair of incisors—big, curved teeth in the center of the upper and lower jaws. Because the incisors grow continuously, a mouse must keep them trimmed down to prevent them from overgrowing. Overgrown incisors can be very painful and cause serious health problems.[2] If you have a pet mouse, you can prevent it from developing overgrown incisors by encouraging it to chew on things and getting its incisors trimmed by your vet.

Part 1
Giving Your Mouse Something to Chew On

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    Give your mouse commercial pellets. In the wild, a mouse will gnaw on wood and forage to keep the incisors trimmed down. For your pet mouse, commercial pellets are a good chewing choice. They will help your mouse wear down its incisors and provide it with a complete and well-balanced diet. Overfeeding pellets can cause obesity, though, so follow the feeding instructions carefully.[3]
    • Commercial pellets are available at your local pet store. Talk with your vet if you’re not sure which brand to choose.
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    Feed your mouse a healthy diet. In addition to pellets, a healthy overall diet can help prevent overgrown incisors in mice.[4] A healthy diet contains a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that contain important nutrients. Examples of fresh produce are apples, broccoli, carrots, and berries.[5] Wash the produce with water to get rid of the pesticides. Here are some other tips for feeding your mouse a healthy diet:[6]
    • Give your mouse a constant supply of fresh water each day.
    • Because mice forage for their food in the wild, scatter your mouse’s food throughout its cage to encourage foraging behavior.
    • Offer the fruits and vegetables in small amounts. They should not be the main the part of your mouse’s diet. Think of the fruits and vegetables as occasional treats.
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    Place gnawing materials in your mouse’s cage. Your mouse should gnaw on more than just its food. Examples of good chew toys for mice are wooden sticks, wooden blocks, and even hard dog biscuits.[7] Be mindful that certain types of wood (pine, cedar) are toxic to mice.[8] Make sure the wooden chewing toys you purchase do not contain pine or cedar.
    • You don’t have to purchase a lot of chew toys. Your mice can also chew on empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, empty cardboard egg cartons, and small cardboard boxes.[9]
    • Give your mouse a variety of chew toys so it doesn’t get bored with just a few things to chew on.
    • Replace the chew toys as they get worn down.

Part 2
Seeking Veterinary Assistance

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    Schedule regular teeth trimmings with your vet. In addition to a healthy diet and chew toys, regular teeth trimming will help prevent your mouse’s incisors from overgrowing. Teeth trimming every 2‒3 weeks is a good schedule.[10] Your vet can help you determine how often your mouse’s incisors should be trimmed.
    • Mouse incisors grow a few millimeters each week.[11]
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    Have your vet trim your mouse’s incisors. Teeth trimming requires anesthesia.[12] While your mouse is anesthetized, your vet will use specialized dental tools, such as a high-speed drill, to trim the incisors. The drill will allow your vet to smoothly trim the incisors without leaving any sharp or jagged edges.[13]
    • Make sure your vet does not use nail trimmers or bone cutters to trim the incisors. These instruments can split the incisors lengthwise, causing pain and a possible tooth root infection.[14] The tooth root is located above the gum line.
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    Do not cut your mouse’s incisors at home. Regular teeth trimmings by your vet could get expensive. Because of the expense, you may want to trim your mouse’s incisors on your own. Do not do this! Without having specialized dental tools, you could crack the incisors and end up causing more harm than good. Leave the teeth trimming to your vet.
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    Treat dental problems in your mouse. Other than overgrown incisors, mice can suffer from such dental problems as malocclusion (improper teeth alignment) and abscesses (pockets of infection). Symptoms of dental problems include decreased appetite, bad breath, lumps near the mouth, and extra drooling.[15] If you notice dental problems in your mice, take it to your vet for treatment. Examples of treatment are:[16]
    • Teeth trimming for malocclusion
    • Tooth extraction and removal of affected tissue for abscesses


  • Incisors are naturally curved. Overgrown incisors can look like long spirals.[17]
  • Rodent incisors have several functions, including cutting through wood and biting through a fruit’s skin.[18]
  • Not all vets have experience treating rodent dental problems. If your vet does not feel comfortable trimming your mouse’s incisors, ask them to refer to you an exotics vet who can perform the trimming.[19]


  • Overgrown incisors can make it difficult for a mouse to eat. This can lead to severe malnutrition and dangerously low blood sugar levels.[20]

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Categories: Mice and Rats