Dental problems are one of the most common conditions that we see in rabbits. Rabbits teeth grow continuously throughout their life, they are worn down by the action of chewing and grinding their food ready to eat. Dental problems occur when the teeth are not aligned properly (malocclusion) as they do not wear down. Malocclusion can happen to both the front incisors and the back molar teeth. If the incisor teeth do not wear down, they can grow so much that they curl right round into the gums. If the molar teeth do not wear down they develop spurs (spiky projections of teeth) that rub either on the tongue or the cheek, causing soreness and ulceration.
What causes malocclusion?
Malocclusion has three main causes:
- A congenital problem
- Trauma - this can be due to physical injury or persistent pulling on the hutch wire
- Tooth root infections
What are the signs of malocclusion?
- Difficulty eating
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
Teeth affected by malocclusion need to be trimmed using a high-speed dental burr, then filed smooth using a special instrument called a rasp. If repeated dental work is needed it is sometimes advisable to remove the affected teeth. It is possible to clip the teeth however this will often cause longitudinal fractures in the teeth which can cause abscesses and often worsen the angle of growth further.
It is important that your rabbit has access to good quality hay, vegetables and chew sticks. The chewing action required to eat these foods will help wear the teeth down, thus preventing dental problems occuring.
Prevention is better than cure - if you would like to have your rabbit's teeth checked please ring to book a complimentary appointment with one of our veterinary nurses.