I am looking for some advice for my female guinea pig Clarabel, who has been diagnosed with both malocclusion and TMJ.
In late November Clarabel stopped eating, was taken to the vet and treated for malocclusion. As she has a good diet, the vet said the cause was genetic. She did not resume normal eating patterns post-surgery, and eats only a few leafy greens on her own. She is not eating hay. I took her back to the vet and this time was diagnosed with TMJ, which the vet said has resulted from the malocclusion.
After looking up TMJ, I have started giving her jaw massages to try and alleviate her discomfort. Has anyone used massage as an effective treatment for TMJ? I did read about some people using electric toothbrushes to massage piggies. How long have people done this at a time and how did the piggies tolerate the noise of the brush?
Over the past few days I noticed her lower jaw is now mis-aligned with her upper jaw and her incisors are wearing in a diagonal line. She will need teeth-trimming again, but I need a way to keep her jaw aligned. I have read about the chin-sling on this site. I feel this could help with the mis-alignment. Can it be purchased by owners?
Clarabel is on painkillers and has been since the surgery. She is still alert, and relatively active. She has no other health issues that we know of. She is only 2 and a half years old. I feel if I could get her to the point of eating some hay, I could complement it with a bit of critical care and she would do well longer-term.
Any other advice for managing TMJ in piggies and making them comfortable enough to eat would be very much appreciated. I have not had experience of dental/jaw related issues before with my piggies.
After about 6 to 8 weeks from her first dental she began to eat hay again and regained her previous weight. Over the past year she has had regular dentals, has continued to eat a normal diet and has been having daily painkillers of gaberpentine to control pain from her root elongation. This was diagnosed after x-rays were taken (so now I do not know whether she really has/had TMJ after all).
I did purchase a chin-sling from Pinta, but we were unable to get Clarabel to wear it successfully. So, unfortunately I do not know exactly how her jaw became re-aligned, except for the passage of time perhaps.
Things were going well until about 3 weeks ago when she suddenly stopped eating again. She had a dental two days later to correct molar overgrowth (we were getting her checked regularly, this was about 8 weeks since her previous dental). However, she is still not eating and continues to decline.
She was about 950g previously, now she is 700g. Her lower jaw is mis-aligned to the right. She is drooling a lot. She does not tolerate the syringe feeding well. For the past two weeks while feeding she struggles to swallow. Often, she will chew the food, then she stretches her neck out, opens her jaw wide and appears to gag on the food until she brings it up. This is distressing, means that she is not taking as much food as we are feeding her, and makes her very unwilling to take anything from the syringe. This is different behaviour from the previous times she has stopped eating. We are pretty experienced with syringe feeding by now, and I am not giving her too much at once - this can happen even with a 0.2ml amount of food.
We have taken her back to the vets several times to try and work out what is going on. Initially she had an ulcer in her mouth from a tooth digging into her gums. However, this has now healed and the gagging behaviour continues. Last Wednesday she returned for more diagnostics. The vet had a good look at her mouth and throat and trimmed her teeth again (they were already starting to grow over her tongue again), but couldn't find anything that should be causing so much discomfort with eating. She did find some puss-filled nodules on the back of her throat, which she said she'd seen in other guinea pigs but that shouldn't be of concern. She seems to improve immediately after the vet visit, but then declines again soon after.
She is otherwise healthy. Her heart and lungs are good, and her blood tests didn't show up anything. She is 3 and a half years old. Our vets are specialist exotics and are very good. She is currently on meloxicam, gaberpentine, antibiotics and a gut stimulator.
Apologies for such a long post, but I am getting desperate. I am not sure what else to do. The only other thing is x-rays, but I don't think they will help diagnose anything to help with the gagging up of food.
Any advice is appreciated. Has anyone seen this gagging behaviour before, but without any currently maloccluded teeth?
I am also sorry you are dealing with this. A consult could indeed help. Sef's suggestion to have your vet contact Loic Legendre for a consultation is a good one. He might be able to give you some insight.
I am going to get some x-rays or CT scans done and have asked for the throat and chest to be scanned as well as her skull.
I will look up Dr Legendre.
If she wasn't having trouble swallowing she would probably recover slowly from the dental, as she is still interested in eating greens and some oats.