What’s going on with bearded dragon underbite?
Why is your bearded dragon’s lower jaw protruding from its upper jaw?
An underbite isn’t something you’d ever expect with these reptile pets, but it does happen.
And it’s not good.
You need to know more about bearded dragon underbites.
What Is A Bearded Dragon Underbite?
When bearded dragons have an underbite with the lower jaw protruding out over the upper jaw, something is wrong. While an underbite may be a genetic defect, it could be a sign of illness. If you see an underbite alongside any unusual symptoms, we recommend contacting your veterinarian.
What Does An Underbite Look Like In A Reptile?
Like other animals, an underbite in a reptile means its bottom jaw protrudes from underneath its upper jaw.
You may see a bit of exposed tongue as well, depending on how severe the underbite is.
Many reptiles could be susceptible to an underbite.
Crested geckos and ball pythons are other reptiles which have reported cases of underbites from their owners.
Why Does My Bearded Dragon Have An Underbite?
Depending on other health, husbandry, and dietary factors, an underbite in your pet could be no cause for concern or a sign of something severe, which needs medical attention.
Check your beardie’s teeth first.
If you see any foreign object, like substrate, stuck in their teeth and gums, remove it immediately.
Also, check for any signs of rot or an abscess.
Next, make sure you are giving your bearded dragon an appropriate amount of calcium and supplementing with vitamin D3 through UV light.
A 10.0-watt bulb is recommended.
It is vital to check and make sure your UV bulbs have not worn out.
They tend to wear out every six months.
Suppose your bearded dragon is getting an appropriate amount of supplementary nutrients and a calcium-rich diet, and there are no other symptoms of mouth rot or metabolic bone disease (MBD).
In this case, it is most likely the underbite is genetic.
While we do not recommend breeding your bearded dragon if they have an underbite if it is not causing any difficulty in eating or drinking, there should be no need for concern.
If you have any concerns about a genetic underbite, it is never a bad idea to contact your reptile veterinarian for advice.
Metabolic Bone Disease In Bearded Dragons
If your bearded dragon has an underbite alongside any of the symptoms of metabolic bone disease, you should immediately contact your vet.
Metabolic bone disease, or MBD, is a fairly common disease caused by a calcium deficiency.
A calcium deficiency could be caused by a lack of calcium in the diet, or otherwise, something else interfering with calcium absorption.
It severely affects bone health in beardies.
The symptoms of MBD include:
- “Rubber jaw”
- Tremor in limbs when attempting to move
- Softening of facial bones
- Weakness and non-brumation lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Stunted Growth
What Do I Do If My Bearded Dragon Has MBD?
Once you have confirmed an MBD diagnosis with your vet, treatment will usually take a matter of months.
Depending on the severity of the case, treatment may require medication or a simple adjustment of diet and supplements.
Sometimes, if a bearded dragon is not getting enough calcium, it means its owner is not giving them the right kind of calcium supplement.
While powdered calcium is the most readily available type and easy to add to any food, some bearded dragons may not be interested.
Calcium gluconate comes in a gel form, usually given via an oral syringe.
Ask your veterinarian about calcium gluconate if you have difficulty giving your beardie enough calcium.
Bearded dragons are desert animals, and they need heat to digest their food.
Sometimes, beardies do not get enough calcium because the heat in their basking spots is either too high or not high enough.
Your basking spot temperature should be between 95 and 110° degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 43° degrees C).
Direct UVB light is necessary for calcium absorption.
A lack of UVB exposure is a common cause of MBD and underbite.
A captive bearded dragon will not get as much sunlight as a wild one and miss out on essential nutrients like vitamin D3 if not supplemented with UVB exposure.
Make sure you are replacing the bulbs every six months.
Foods rich in compounds like oxalates and phosphorous will interfere with calcium intake in a bearded dragon.
This is why we advise not to feed a beardie bananas, beans, or swiss chard all too often.
If you treat your bearded dragon for MBD, stick to calcium-rich vegetables, fruits, and insects.
This food with calcium includes:
- Mustard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
A bearded dragon in a desert enclosure which is too small for them may develop MBD even with good lighting and nutrition.
Make sure your beardie is in an environment 40 gallons large at minimum.
Paying attention to your beardie and handling them frequently will help you catch any odd behaviors or body conditions before they become a big problem.
It is never a bad idea to call your vet if you think anything might be wrong.
Mouth Rot In Bearded Dragons
If your bearded dragon has an underbite and symptoms of mouth rot, contact your vet as soon as possible.
- Gum swelling
- Dark tissue in the gums (necrosis)
- Cottage-cheese like tissue as lining erodes
- Loss of appetite
This condition requires immediate veterinary attention.
Your vet will need to do an oral cleaning and potentially perform oral surgery.
Luckily, a bearded dragon will regrow any teeth lost.
Catching these symptoms early on will help prevent this infection from spreading and causing the loss of your pet.
We hope we have helped you address some potential causes of your bearded dragon’s underbite.
An underbite in a reptile may be a genetic flaw.
If there are no other symptoms of severe conditions, this is most likely the case.
While we do not recommend breeding a bearded dragon with an underbite, there should be no cause for concern if it is just genetic.
If you see any of the symptoms of conditions like metabolic bone disease, a gum abscess, or oral rot, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
This may lead to fractures in the bone or even death if not treated.
Though these conditions are treatable, they could be serious if not tended to.