pogona minor juvenile teeth

Bearded Dragons Teeth Explained and How to Care for THem

Pet bearded dragons’ teeth are susceptible to periodontal disease. Their teeth can be easily damaged and need to be cared for.

Lizards can either be acrodont or pleurodont, bearded dragons have acrodont teeth.

Acrodont teeth are not bedded in sockets, they do not have roots, instead they are fused to the bone. The is no clear separation between the teeth and the jaw bone.

The bearded dragons acrodont teeth are triangular and increase their size the further towards the posterior (back of the mouth) you go. Bearded dragons have some pleurodont teeth at the front of the jaw (anterior).

bearded dragon acrodont teeth
Acrodont teeth of bearded dragons.
a) lingual view of the bearded dragons teeth which are fused to the bone.
b) view of a tooth cut through the jaw bone
pleurodont teeth
Pleurodont teeth are markedly different to the acrodont teeth.
a) lingual view of pleurodont teeth set in the jaw bone.
b) view cut through the jaw bone.

The Agamidae and Chamaeleonidae are the only lizards that have acrodont teeth. The teeth attached to the jaw and the gum is thin. This makes them vulnerable to being exposed if the gum is damaged such as with gingivitis. Gum recession from gingivitis is permanent.

Phylogenetic evolutionary tree Pogona
Short version of the phylogenetic/ evolutionary tree of Pogona (bearded dragon)

Acrodont teeth are vulnerable to both bacterial and fungal infection.

Periodontal disease shortens the lifespan of bearded dragons. Although it cannot be reversed, it can be managed through correct diet and dental management plan with your vet.

My Bearded Dragon Has Lost Teeth

Bearded dragons do not naturally lose teeth however, their teeth are easily lost and do not grow back. This is not something observed in their wild counterparts, it is associated with our husbandry practices in captivity [Reusch 2009, Hedley 2016].

3 Things That Break Bearded Dragons Teeth

Bearded Dragons teeth are easily broken, damaged or lost. Some causes of vulnerability include:

  • A lot of soft food such as soft bodied insects and soft fruit/veggies (Reusch 2009; Mayer 2013)
  • Stresses due to environment:
    • Compromised immune system
    • If your bearded dragon is banging its head, this can cause damage to rostral area
  • Fighting

Bearded Dragons Teeth Worn

Bearded dragons teeth will wear down as they get older.

bearded dragons teeth wear down
Bearded dragons teeth wear down as they age.
a) a young bearded dragons teeth.
b) an adult bearded dragons teeth wearing down

Signs of Periodontal Disease That Need Attention

Some of the signs that your bearded dragon may have periodontal disease include:

  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Pain on mastication
  • Trouble in swallowing food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling around the mouth
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Sore on his mouth
  • Red gums (gingivitis)
  • Receded gums
  • Lost teeth, loose teeth, missing teeth
  • Changed colour of the teeth and/or the bone. Brown teeth, black teeth, green teeth, yellow teeth.
  • Increased mucus in the mouth

By the time you see these sorts of symptoms, it requires medical attention. Periodontal disease can result in your bearded dragon having no teeth, pain and a shorter lifespan. Arrange a visit with your vet.

Note that if your bearded dragons jaw is bending, see the post NHSP in Bearded Dragons and What to do About It and speak with your vet urgently.

4 Changes You Can Make to Save Your Bearded Dragons Teeth

So, your bearded dragons’ teeth are black or perhaps it has lost a tooth. Maybe you are lucky enough to get ahead of the game and prevent any tooth damage. Here are some ways to save your bearded dragons teeth.

Is your bearded dragon glass surfing or banging its head? The environment isn’t working for it. Maybe you need bigger housing, accessories that suit your bearded dragons needs or perhaps a place to hide. See the post on Housing for Bearded Dragons or Accessories and Enrichment to get some ideas. If it is gravid, then pop over to the post for help on what to do.

Prevent falls. Never put your bearded dragon on high shelves, smooth tabletops or other things it cannot grip on and could fall.

Feed rougher and harder foods along with the soft foods. Particles of soft foods are easily trapped within the mouth which promote plaque build up. Harder or rougher foods don’t present the same level of issue and they help toughen the mouth tissue.
Change from feeding the mealworms as larvae to their adult stage as beetles. Consider adding the occasional snail, phasmid and other beetles.
Hang green food up as whole leaves and let them crop at it. See the post on Six Ways to Get your Bearded Dragon Eat Vegetables for more ideas.
Large foods such as vertebrate are a risk to your bearded dragons teeth and not required in their diet. For more information on hazards of feeding mice see the post on Mice pups for bearded dragons.

Check your bearded dragons teeth monthly to see if they need cleaning. Making this a part of your routine care can prevent the worst and add to the quality of life your pet can experience. Arrange for teeth cleaning at your annual vet visit which should be done prior to winter in preparation for brumation each year.

Bearded dragons are acrodonts
Wild bearded dragon displaying his teeth.

References and Further Reading

  1. Periodontal Disease, Editor(s): Jörg Mayer, Thomas M. Donnelly, Clinical Veterinary Advisor, W.B. Saunders, 2013, Pages 132-134, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4160-3969-3.00082-2.
  2. Haridy Y. 2018. Histological analysis of post-eruption tooth wear adaptations, and ontogenetic changes in tooth implantation in the acrodontan squamate Pogona vitticeps. PeerJ 6:e5923 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5923
  3. Bearded dragon with periodontal disease: exotic practice challenge. Brigitte Reusch. June 8, 2009. Veterinary Times https://www.vettimes.co.uk/article/bearded-dragon-with-periodontal-disease-exotic-practice-challenge/
  4. Hedley, J. (2016) ‘Anatomy and Disorders of the Oral Cavity of Reptiles and Amphibians’, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, 19(3), 689-706.
  5. Periodontal Disease in Lizards – A Review of Numerous Cases. Helen McCracken BVSe BSc(Vet) MVS. Christine A, Birch BSe(App). 1994. Proceedings American Association of Zoo Veterinarians

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