Although the pictures of the front teeth below are not typical, it does happen. The picture of the inside molars is an excellent example of the beginnings of the spurs that cause the bunny to stop eating, cause abscesses, eye problems and other issues. Good article!
Rabbit Dental Health
Rabbits have strong teeth that allow them to chew a wide variety of grasses and vegetation. Unlike humans, a rabbit’s teeth grow continuously. As the rabbit eats, the tooth surfaces are ground down at a rate of about 3mm per week. When a rabbit’s jaw is at rest, its incisors touch but its cheek teeth do not. After using its incisors to shear off a mouthful of food, the rabbit adjusts its jaw position to allow the cheek teeth to meet and grind together. The rabbit does this by chewing with a wide side to side motion. Because of their specialized jaws and continuously erupting teeth, any abnormalities in jaw shape quickly lead to dental problems. Rabbit teeth also curve when they grow. If they become overgrown, they can rub against the cheek or tongue causing painful ulcers.
Rabbit Dental Problems
Spikes and spurs
Causes of Rabbit Dental Disease
Skull and jaw abnormalities are common in domestic rabbits. Small abnormalities in the bone structure result in the teeth not meeting together properly. When the teeth do not occlude properly, the do not wear down evenly. This causes overgrown teeth, overgrown roots, spikes and spurs. Rabbits that have this condition need regular dentals to even out their teeth.
Rabbits’ teeth are designed for chewing large volumes of food. Grass hay should compose the majority of a rabbit’s diet. Vegetables and commercial rabbit pellets should form no more than 15-20% of the diet.
If the jaw is broken, it may heal abnormally. If teeth fracture, they may grow back at an improper angle. The most common cause of tooth fractures is incisors fracturing when they are clipped at home. To avoid this, you should get your rabbits teeth clipped by your veterinarian.
Dental infections are usually secondary to other dental problems. Uneven wear of teeth can lead to abnormally long roots, which cause inflammation and abscess formation. Rabbit abscesses tend to form pocket and tracts that spread the infection to other teeth, and into the jaw. Overgrown upper incisor roots can block the tear ducts. Bacteria proliferate in the blocked ducts, creating abscesses. You might notice swelling and discharge from the eye when this happens.
Some systemic diseases can cause dental problems too. Regular visits to the vet will keep your rabbit’s body and teeth in good condition.
Treating and Preventing Rabbit Dental Disease• Make sure your rabbit eats a diet composed mostly of grass hay.
• Monitor your rabbit carefully for signs of dental disease (see symptoms of dental disease below).
•Bring your rabbit to your veterinarian for regular dental exams.
• If necessary, schedule regular dental surgery to grind down and trim overgrown teeth.
• Abscesses should be treated by your veterinarian as soon as you notice them. This may require a combination of antibiotics, surgery to remove or clean out the abscess, and extraction of affected teeth.
Symptoms of Rabbit Dental Disease
• Appetite loss, or unwillingness to eat certain foods
• Dropping food out of the mouth
• Salivating excessively
• Nasal or ocular discharge, excessive tear production
• Bulging eyes
• Tooth grinding
• Facial swelling
Why not call Eagle Ridge Animal and Bird Hospital today to schedule a dental exam for your rabbit. Our veterinarians will work with you to keep your rabbit happy and healthy, and stop dental disease in its tracks.