Ferrets develop plaque and tartar on their teeth as they age. As the tartar accumulates, it starts to irritate the gums and eventually progresses to gingivitis (bleeding and irritated gums). Left untreated, a ferret will develop severe infections of the mouth and may have bad breath, drooling, and difficulty eating. Over time, this can lead to painful abscesses and loss of the teeth.
This ferret has severe dental disease: gingivitis and bleeding gums (red arrow), plaque and mild tartar (blue arrow), and excess tartar and calculus (green arrow).
It is possible to brush a ferret's teeth with a softy baby toothbrush or even just cotton-tip applicators. Enzymatic toothpastes used for cats work well as does plain baking soda. Brushing daily is best but even once a week or once every two weeks is better than nothing at all. Even with regular brushing, many ferrets go on to develop tartar and gingivitis so we recommend teeth cleaning as part of the annual care program for your ferret. This procedure is done under general anesthesia. With a proper dental care program, your ferret will have all its teeth even when it is a senior citizen! So go ahead and make that call to set up an appointment for your ferret to get its breath kissing sweet!