Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rabbit Dental Health

Rabbit dental health is extremely important and essential to their overall well-being. Because rabbit teeth are constantly growing, they can be prone to issues of both the incisors and the molars, especially if fed improper diets. Hay is absolutely essential in maintaining rabbit dental health!

Maloccluded incisors can have a few different causes. Genetic predisposition (particularly dwarf breeds, small lops and lionheads, who have characteristically round, short faces), tooth fracture and habitual cage bar pulling are some common causes. If the malocclusion is mild and your rabbit is not overly stressed by the procedure, your vet will likely recommend regular tooth filings. Filing with a Dremel is typically preferable to clippers that can easily crack or break off the teeth, complicating the issue and possibility even necessitating a surgical procedure.

If severe and/or if your rabbit is young and/or if he finds the frequent procedures very stressful, your vet may recommend incisor removal for a more permanent solution. However, even some severe malocclusions can be corrected with time, patience and a veterinarian experienced in rabbit dentistry. Please check your rabbit’s teeth frequently for signs of overgrowing or “splaying” of the incisors.

Molar “spurs” or “points” are also common in the rabbit breeds listed above and in those without a proper diet consisting of unlimited timothy, mixed grass or similar hay (no alfalfa). These spurs can point either towards the cheek or the tongue and cause severe pain to the rabbit. Because a rabbit’s molars are far back in the mouth and cannot be seen without the aid of special medical tools, molar spurs can be harder to detect in early stages.

Have your vet check your rabbit’s molars at his yearly check-up. Luckily, there are a few signs to watch for between check-ups:

• Dropping food

• Drooling

• Unwillingness to eat SOME types of food without signs of GI disturbances or appetite loss

• Tearing of one eye in particular, but could involve both

Undetected/untreated molar spurs can lead sores and infections in the mouth and also to extremely serious medical issues, such as molar root infections and abscesses of the jaw and behind the eye (retrobulbar abscess).

Jagger receiving his very last tooth trim before having his incisors removed.
Jagger's teeth issues were caused by genetic misalignment.
Please Note: This is a common procedure and Jagger is not in any distress.

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