Rabbit Dentistry

Rabbit Teeth – by Dr Phil Sacks

Rabbits have 4 upper incisors teeth and 2 lower incisors – that fit between the upper onces.

Rabbit teeth continue to grow throughout their lives.

The bunny incisor teeth are to cut the grass, and the rabbit heek teeth are to grind the grass in a side ways rotation action.

Rabbits needs long grasses to keep the teeth continually worn. Rabbit Cheek teeth are called open-rooted teeth. They continually grow, and it requires the rabbit to be chewing a lot in order to wear down the crowns so that as new crown grows up, the old crown is worn off. If that does not happen appropriately, the crowns either overgrow or the roots grow too long in the opposite direction. It is a vital part of rabbit and rodent physiology to be able to chew a lot to grind down the exposed crown so new crown can grow up. This is an evolutionary adaptation, because if we had to chew as much as rabbits do, then our teeth would wear down and we would have no teeth. In their evolution, they evolved with teeth that grow constantly so they can chew for their whole life.

There are 6 upper Cheek teeth and 5 lower cheek teeth on each side

Causes of Rabbit Dental disease are:

  • mainly not getting enough long grass to wear the crowns
  • Too little vitamin D
  • to little calcium
  • Unknown is common

Rabbit Diet

The rabbit diet basics are :Long grass and hay with mixed vegetables

Are pellets needed ? – not always or as a small amount

NOTE: Rabbit Pellets were developed for laboratory rabbits are were never intended as the primary diet for rabbit pets.

People feed pellets!  and you can buy high fiber pellets (pellets are mainly fibre no matter what). They are already ground up, so they sort of “melt in their mouths.” The rabbit prehends it, puts it in its mouth and chews a couple times and it all falls apart, then they swallow it—as opposed to grass hay or hay that they have to chew and chew and chew and chew until the particles are fine enough that they then swallow them. In my veterionary career I have seen a change from the pet rabbit being fed pelleted diet to the pet rabbit being fed a hay diet.

Symptoms of Dental disease in rabbits (rabbit Vet) – rabbit dentistry

  • anorexia – not eating
  • Salivation
  • decreased feaces
  • decreased swallowing
  • ocular or eye  discharge.-   Because in rabbit dental disease because the upper Cheek teeth grow up and  may invade the nasolacrimal duct  – a duct between the eyes and the mouth,
  • ocular discharge – think infection in tooth root – candidate for dental disease – rabbit dental – rabbit vet
  • exopthalmus – eye bulging out – cheek teeth abscess – think dental in rabbit

Cheek teeth grow “up” in the mandible  if there is not enough crown wear – usually not enough long grass hay – compress eye ducts

Now incisors can also be problematic and overgrow -malocclusion –  due to over grown cheek teeth

physical dental exam – upper incisors shorter than lower incisors – lower have longer crowns.

It is not normal to have a line of bumps along ventral mandible representing germinal bulbs- should be smooth if normal – bumps indicate retrograde growth and is abnormal –

The rabbit dental exam –

Use a speculum and pen light in early days – today some use an otoscope  – ideally use

ideally sedation and brief anesthesia and radiographs – to evaluate early dental disease –

Rabbit mouths do not open much – need special instruments

  • head loupes and light sources
  • “rabbit mouth opener”
  • rabbit speculum – holding cheek apart
  • good exposure and visibility Cheek teeth should appears worn as they continue to grow
  • lateral wear on uppers and medial wear on lowers (lounge depressor, cotton tips  to protect cheek)

We welcome you to book an appointment with us to discuss how to keep your rabbit in optimal health.

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