Overgrown Teeth in Rabbits

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Rabbits are known for their prominent teeth, which are constantly growing. As a rabbit owner, I can say that overgrown teeth in rabbits are not an uncommon condition, that being said, If not properly cared for, a rabbit’s teeth can become overgrown, causing your bunny pain and difficulty eating. Additionally, In severe cases, overgrown teeth can lead to infection and even death. Thankfully, there are steps that we, as rabbit owners can take to prevent this from happening. By providing your rabbit with proper chew toys and a healthy diet, you can help keep their teeth healthy and avoid the problems associated with overgrown teeth in rabbits.

Are overgrown teeth in rabbits considered a disease?

There are a number of dental diseases that can affect rabbits, one of which is called malocclusions or in other words, overgrown teeth. This condition is caused by the overgrowth of the incisors, which can become very long and curved.

According to Dr. Hess, the overgrowth of the lower molars can cause a bridge to form over the tongue, entrapping it. Additionally, the overgrown molars may hit each other when the mouth is opened, causing discomfort.

If left untreated, this can lead to a number of problems including pain, difficulty eating, and even infection. In severe cases, the overgrown teeth may need to be removed surgically.

How long should rabbit teeth be?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, including the breed of rabbit, their diet, and whether or not they have access to chew toys. However, as a general rule of thumb, rabbits’ teeth should be no longer than 1/4 inch. If the teeth are longer than this, it can cause problems for the rabbit including pain and difficulty eating.

What do rabbits’ overgrown teeth look like?

overgrowth of incisors in rabbits

Symptoms of overgrown teeth in rabbits

The symptoms of overgrown teeth in rabbits are excessive drooling, loss of appetite, and weight loss. The rabbit may also have difficulty chewing or swallowing, and the gums may be red and inflamed. If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to malnutrition and even death.

Loss of appetite

One symptom of overgrown teeth in rabbits is that they may have difficulty eating. In fact, this is how I noticed my dutch rabbit Tutti suffers from overgrown teeth, she stopped eating. This is because the overgrown teeth can prevent the rabbit from being able to close its mouth properly, which makes it difficult to chew food. Additionally, the overgrown teeth can also cause pain for the rabbit, which may be evidenced by the rabbit avoiding chewing or by it chewing on one side of its mouth.

excessive drooling

As rabbit owners, we can easily spot overgrown incisor teeth(front teeth), but If your rabbit is drooling excessively it’s time to check its’ molar teeth (cheek teeth). Overgrown teeth in rabbits can also cause the teeth to become misaligned, which puts pressure on the gums and results in inflammation. This can lead to the rabbits drooling as a way to relieve the pressure on their gums.

Weight loss

Another visible sight your rabbits’ teeth are overgrown is weight loss. Rabbits losing weight when their teeth are overgrown is due to the inability to properly grind their food. When the teeth are overgrown, they are not able to grind down the food as they normally would, which causes them to take in less nutrition and lose weight.

Causes of overgrown teeth in rabbits

Overgrown teeth in rabbits or malocclusions is a common problem that can have many different causes. Overgrowth can be caused by poor diet, lack of dental care, genetic factors, or even health problems such as tumors or cysts. In some cases, overgrown teeth may need to be removed surgically.

Poor diet

A rabbit’s teeth grow continuously throughout its life. The length of the teeth is determined by the amount of wear that occurs from chewing and grinding. In fact, one of the most common causes of overgrown teeth in rabbits is poor diet. If a rabbit’s diet lacks enough roughage or fiber to wear down its teeth, the teeth will continue to grow and can become overgrown. This can cause problems with eating and digestion, as well as pain for the rabbit.

Dental care

Normally, adult rabbits have 28 teeth but from time to time, as a result of trauma, old age, or dental diseases, rabbits might lose their teeth. If a rabbit lost one of its’ teeth it’s important to care for and trim the tooth that is growing on the opposite side regularly, to prevent overgrowth.

Genetics

Not all causes for malocclusions are behavioral, there is evidence to suggest that genetics can indeed play a role in the overgrowth of teeth in rabbits. This is thought to occur as a result of a mutation in one or more genes that are responsible for regulating tooth growth. When this mutation occurs, it can lead to an increase in the rate of tooth growth and/or the size of the teeth. This can ultimately result in an overgrowth of teeth.

What is the treatment for overgrown teeth in rabbits?

The treatment for overgrown teeth in rabbits typically involves a combination of mechanical and chemical means. Mechanical means may include tooth trimming, while chemical means may involve the use of fluoride or other agents. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the overgrown teeth.

Tooth trimming

If a rabbit’s teeth are overgrown, the treatment is to trim the teeth back to a normal length. This is done by a veterinarian, who will use a special dental drill to grind down the teeth. The rabbit will be given anesthesia during the procedure.

In some cases, when it is impossible to remove or trim the overgrown teeth immediately,  The vet might guide the owner to Syringe feed their rabbit.

Can I trim my rabbits’ teeth myself?

Although it is possible to trim a rabbit’s teeth yourself, it is generally recommended that you have a professional do it. This is because rabbits’ teeth are very delicate and can easily be damaged if they are not handled properly.

Also, from my personal experience, rabbits get stressed easily, so if you do not know how to trim your bunnies’ teeth I will strongly suggest you will ask a veterinarian to do it for you.

Prevention of overgrown teeth in rabbits

The prevention of overgrown teeth in rabbits is a complex process that involves a variety of different factors. First, it is important to ensure that the rabbit has access to plenty of hay and other roughage, as this will help to keep their teeth healthy and prevent them from becoming overgrown. Secondly, regular tooth-trimming by a qualified veterinarian is essential in order to keep the rabbit’s teeth at a healthy length.

Chew toys

Chew toys help to prevent overgrown teeth in rabbits by providing an outlet for the natural urge to chew. Chewing on toys helps to keep the teeth at a healthy length and can also help to massage the gums, which helps to keep them healthy as well. Also, chew toys also provide mental stimulation for rabbits, which can help to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

Propper diet

A proper diet for rabbits includes hay, fresh vegetables, and a small amount of fresh fruit. This diet helps to keep their teeth healthy and prevent overgrowth. Hay provides the necessary fiber to help keep their teeth clean and healthy, while fresh vegetables and fruit provide the necessary nutrients for overall dental health.

What to feed rabbits to keep teeth short naturally?

rabbits eat hay for teeth wear

The best way to keep a rabbit’s teeth short is to feed them hay. Hay is high in fiber which helps wear down the teeth. You can also give them vegetables and fruits as well as pellets.

In fact, different studies tested the way different diets affect the growth and wear of domestic rabbits’ teeth and found that hay based diet was more beneficial in keeping rabbits’ premolar teeth worn down than a grass/rice hulls/sand pelleted diet.

Conclusion

Overgrown teeth in rabbits can be a problem. If the rabbit is not able to grind the teeth down, they will need to be trimmed by a vet. This is a simple procedure, but it is important to catch it early. With proper care, your rabbit can live a long and healthy life.

About the author

Li-ran B.

Li-ran pretty much grew up in a household that was like a tiny zoo, full of all sorts of animals. However, rabbits and guinea pigs were always his go-to buddies. To this day, that love for these adorable creatures (including Tutti, a sweet and sassy Dutch rabbit) is still going strong.