Bearded dragons can chomp down insects, gobble up vegetables, and throw down fruits. But just how do they do it? Do bearded dragons have teeth to help breakdown all that crazy stuff that they consume?
Dr. Jess will answer the fascinating question: Does a bearded dragon have teeth?
What is a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are reptiles that are grouped into the desert lizard category.
They fall into the genus Pogona with eight different species falling under this category.
The eight species of bearded dragons, are distinguished from one another and named by the differences in their spines on their chin and neck.
Bearded dragons get their name from their armor of spiny scales, which include a “beard” of spikes under its chin and neck that puffs up depending on their mood, most commonly seen when puffed out upset for them to seem larger to whatever is upsetting them.
This may be paired with a erry ‘hiss’ when really upset.
They can live up to 10 years and can reach up to 24 inches and weigh up to 18 ounces once full grown. They range in colors from brown, to orange, to yellow, to cream.
Bearded dragons are often referred to as “beardies”, are one of the more popular reptilian pets because of their cool, interesting exterior and their popularity being of low maintenance pets.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
These guys are considered omnivorous, meaning they eat what both herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters).
Beardies commonly consume vegetables, fruits, and insects.
Some of the more common store-bought fruits and vegetables that can be thoroughly washed and served up to your little buddy include:
- Raw Asparagus
- Raw Bell Peppers
- Raw Cabbage
- Collard greens
- Peeled Cucumbers
- Spaghetti squash
- Raw Zucchini
- Yellow squash
They have strong jaws that clench and crush hard-shelled insects like mealworms and beetles.
HERE IS A LIST OF THE MOST COMMON BUGS THAT OWNERS WILL PURCHASE FOR THEIR BEARDIES:
- Butter worms
- King worms
- Wax worms
Owners should never feed their pet dragon any insects that they find in their home as these insects may have been in contact with pesticides or other harmful chemicals that could make a bearded dragon sick.
You should always purchase food for your pet from a reputable source. Always!
The foods you feed your bearded dragon will also affect their digestive system. And you can find out so much about your pet’s health through their digestive system and bearded dragon poop!
What Really Are Teeth?
Teeth are found in the mouth of many living creatures and help the animal cut and break down food particles small enough to allow the animal to swallow the food and move it farther down the alimentary (food or digestive) tract.
They are made of bone, and are usually a shade of white.
They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes depending on their intended purpose.
Many animals that are herbivores (plant eaters) have wide, flat-surfaced teeth used to grind their foods, plants.
Other animals have sharper, with a more pointed or jagged tooth surface, used for cutting, like carnivores, meat-eaters.
And there are animals with a dentition (tooth arrangement) in between. Many of these creatures are omnivores, where they eat both plant and animal matter, so they need flat, grinding surfaces and sharp, cutting surfaces to properly chew their foods.
Teeth have an incredibly hard outer coating called the enamel that protects the sensitive insides of the tooth.
The enamel does not have any blood or nerves that go to it. This means that it is not living nor can this part of the tooth feel things like pain.
The middle layer of the tooth makes up the main bulk of the tooth and is called the dentin.
But the inside layer of the tooth, the pulp, does have blood running to it and also very sensitive nerves, so the inner part of the tooth is living and can sense pain, cold, etc.
Do Bearded Dragons Have Teeth to Chew Their Food?
Lizards of all kinds lack tooth sockets or alveoli, things that help strong teeth stay in place, and their dentition (arrangement of teeth) is either acrodont or pleurodont.
That being said, lizards, including bearded dragons, do have teeth.
Bearded Dragon Dentition:
Bearded dragons have acrodont dentition.
Many other lizards like monitor lizards and iguanas have pleurodont dentition. But let’s save this piece of info for another day.
Lizards with acrodont dentition have their teeth superficially (near the surface) attached to the biting edges of the upper and lower jaw bones.
Acrodont teeth are easily lost and are unfortunately not replaced with new teeth.
As these lizard’s teeth wear, the biting surface of each tooth eventually becomes the bone itself. Basically the lizard wears its teeth down in time, farther and farther into the flat surface of the jaw bone.
Can Bearded Dragons Lose Their Teeth?
Any living organism with teeth can lose their teeth.
So, yes, bearded dragons can lose their teeth just like you and I can.
Because bearded dragons have acrodont dentition, and therefore relatively loose attachment of their teeth to the jaw bone compared to other species, they are prone to losing their teeth.
Causes of Tooth Damage in Bearded Dragons:
Tooth fractures, tooth infections, as well as peridontal disease can result in our pet beardie losing one or more of their teeth.
Peridontal disease is a disease that surrounds (“peri”) the teeth (“teeth”).
Peridontal disease is quite common in bearded dragons and a few other species of lizards that are kept in captivity.
It occurs when plaque formation builds up and gingivitis becomes worse and worse.
Basically, dirty teeth buildup nasty bacteria and with prolonged exposure to these bacteria, the teeth and gums can see inflammation and infection, peridontal disease.
Can You Clean Bearded Dragon’s teeth?
Yes! You sure can!
It is recommended that you gently clean your bearded dragon’s teeth 1-2 times per week. I highly recommend allowing your veterinarian to show you just how to properly clean the teeth so that you do not unintentionally harm your pet while trying to brush their teeth.
What To Do If Your Lizard Loses Their Teeth?
The first thing to do is to contact your local veterinarian who will likely want to see your pet for a full oral examination and physical exam workup to make sure the rest of your dragon’s body is healthy.
Bearded dragons do have teeth. However, their teeth are not the same as ours in many ways. You must take great care in monitoring your beardie’s teeth and eating habits and ensure that they are getting routine physical check ups done by a licensed veterinarian to catch problems early enough to stave off bigger tooth issues later on in your pet’s life.