How to Cure and Prevent Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot

Mouth rot can be one of the most painful infections for a bearded dragon.

Mouth rot is otherwise called Ulcerative Stomatitis and is an infection affecting the gums and teeth of your bearded dragon.

If left untreated, it can spread to the entire mouth, making it incredibly painful for your beardie to eat.

Causes of Mouth Rot

This condition often occurs due to stress. High levels of stress can cause an overactive immune response, making it difficult for your beardie to keep bacteria in check.

However, mouth rot in a bearded dragon may not always be experienced due to stress.

Changes to your beardie’s environmental conditions can also lead to an overactive immune system, causing inflammatory diseases that can lead to mouth rot. The food that your beardie eats can also be a cause.

Eating live prey can sometimes cause little cuts in the mouth, these are then open to infection if proper hygiene is not maintained.

Rubbing against cage walls, fighting with other dragons, or chewing on decor can also contribute to a bearded dragon’s mouth rot.

Mouth Rot Symptoms

A physical examination from a vet will confirm if your bearded dragon truly has mouth rot.

This physical examination involves checking your beardie’s mouth for any possible abrasions in the mouth tissue. If there is any swelling to the gums then this is another sign which your vet will look out for.

If you notice any of the symptoms listed below then it is a good idea to get your beardie straight to the vet so they can conduct a physical examination on your beardie.

  • Puss in or around the mouth
  • Red or inflamed tissue
  • Loss of appetite

Prevention and Treatment of Mouth Rot

The easiest way to prevent mouth rot in your beardie involves a combination of routine check-ups and habitat control.

This should be done regularly to ensure your dragon’s health is maintained.

Here are some best practices to follow for avoiding mouth rot problems in your bearded dragon:

1. Maintain Optimum Light and Heat Levels

Beardie’s require very specific environmental conditions. You should look to keep the temperatures as consistent as possible.

Did you know that a beardie’s tank should consist of different temperature zones?

There should be a gradient of temperatures with a basking area, up to 110F, and a provision of a cool shady spot at around 85F.

Establishing these zones will allow your beardie to self regulate its temperature.

However, monitoring temperatures across different zones can be tricky with a standard thermometer. Using an infra-red thermometer, though, will allow you to easily monitor the temperature in any given zone.

Bearded Dragon Lighting Setup Thermometer

Note: If you are unsure of how to set up your beardie’s lights then you can find out how to create an optimal light setup here.

2. Provide a Place to Rest

Providing a place to hide will give your beardie a place to feel safe. This will, in turn, help to prevent stress levels rising which will reduce the risk of mouth rot.

You will also want to ensure your beardie’s recreational areas are separated from their place of rest.

Fortunately, bearded dragons are highly intelligent animals, and can be trained to maintain good practices like this by simply providing a consistent routine.

The sleeping area should be in the form of a hide or shelter where your beardie can go to rest.

Hide for Bearded Dragon Croc

3. Maintain a Clean Tank

There are many things in a beardie’s tank which can cause a cut or a scrape in their mouth. This could be from the food they eat or some of the decor.

Typically a cut will heal with no problems at all. However, an unhygienic tank will be a place for bacteria to thrive.

If these bacteria then enter the cut, your beardie could begin to suffer from mouth rot.

To prevent this, simply ensure that you are routinely disinfecting your beardie’s tank.

You will want to make sure you are using a product that won’t harm your beardie though. Use a ‘beardie-safe’ disinfectant, such as Zoo Med’s Wipe Out, to quickly reduce the spread of bacterial infections within the enclosure.

Bearded Dragon Tank Cleaner Wipe Out

We are all busy people and therefore giving the tank a full clean every day just is not possible (or necessary). For a quick clean, use special scrubbing wipes on the areas where your beardie has pooped.

Again, you will want to ensure you use a product that is safe for your beardie, these terrarium scrubbing wipes are both safe and incredibly convenient (and they also eliminate odors too).

It is well worth having a couple of tubs around the house.

4. Use an Appropriate Substrate

The best type of substrate for a bearded dragon is a much-argued topic amongst owners.

A wild bearded dragon will be used to sand and rocks and many owners like to replicate this through a particle substrate in the tank.

There are advantages to this, however, there are also some drawbacks, and one of those drawbacks is that it can be more difficult to maintain good levels of hygiene within a sandy tank.

The rocks and particles of sand can often be ingested by mistake, these can cause your beardie’s mouth to cut which can then be open to infection and mouth rot.

To totally avoid this risk, you could consider a non-particle substrate such as the Zilla Terrarium Liner which you can keep clean with absolute ease and there are also no bits for your beardie to chomp on!

Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons Zilla Reptile Brown

5. Oral Hygiene

It is good practice to regularly set aside sometime each week to assess your beardie’s mouth.

If you see food or substrate stuck inside, gently open their mouth and remove the item with a soft cotton swab. This could be done twice or thrice weekly.

Bear in mind that the smaller your beardie, the more fragile they are.

If you have never tried to open your pet’s mouth before, consult your vet for tips on how to handle and restrain your pet.

Caution: Be very careful with your pet’s mouth: it’s very easy to break and damage the jaws, or even injure another part of your pet’s body during handling.

6. Nutrition

The stronger and healthier your beardie is, the lower the risk of mouth rot. Adequate nutrition plays a vital role here.

A highly nutritious diet will boost your pet’s immune system, providing an immediate remedy for minor infections.

Dubia Roaches are a highly nutritious food source, high in protein.

These proteins strengthen the body and contain a high level of immune-boosting nutrients.

These feeders will also help maintain your beardie’s calcium levels, and since calcium plays a significant role in dental health, it is an easy win for your beardie.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Roaches

7. Medicinal Treatment

Mouth rot infections can also be treated with an antiseptic solution. Betadine consists of a powerful combination of Povidone and Iodine which rapidly kills germs and treats infections.

To use, simply dilute the solution with water and dab the affected area with a cotton bud soaked in the diluted solution.

Having a product that offers both prevention and treatment means you can stop diseases by simply treating minor wounds such as cuts in your bearded dragon’s mouth.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Betadine


Mouth rot in a bearded dragon is certainly preventable however if your dragon already has this problem, then your first port of call should be the vet, it is an easily treatable condition.

Prevention itself involves a combination of environmental controls involving habitat hygiene and the use of suitable bedding substrates.

Other effective means involve using antiseptic solutions such as Betadine that can kill germs and bacteria.

Lastly, diet plays a significant role in offering protection against infections such as mouth rot.

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  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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