Healthy rabbit teeth consist of top white straight lined up incisors and a bottom chisel-shaped pair with pink gums. Bunnies have 28 teeth in total,16 on the top jaw and 12 on the bottom. Unlike most pets, rabbits have open root teeth that enable them to grow continuously. If left untrimmed, as a result of an improper diet, their teeth can grow up to 5 inches long within 12 months. This article looks at everything you need to know about healthy rabbit teeth and dental maintenance.
How do I know if my rabbit has teeth problems?
Signs of a rabbit with dental problems or overgrown teeth include loss of appetite, drooling, teeth grinding, swelling, or inflammation around the mouth. Whenever your bunny has any of the symptoms mentioned, ensure that you take them to a veterinarian.
Should healthy rabbit teeth be white?
Yes, their teeth should be bright white. Any discoloration such as black, brown, or yellow is an indicator of unhealthy teeth. Their diet essentially keeps their teeth in check. For instance, their menu should comprise mainly of timothy hay. This not only trims down their teeth but also prevents them from discoloring.
The different types of rabbit teeth
Rabbits have 6 incisors in total, two large incisors on the upper and lower jaw. Additionally, they also have a smaller pair on each side of their upper front incisors. A rabbit’s healthy upper and lower incisor should be white, long, and straight. Their upper incisors should overlap their bottom ones to enable a bunny to properly close its mouth.
• Molars and premolars
Just like incisors, both molars and premolars play a pivotal role. In other words, they’re used for grinding or chewing food. Collectively, rabbits have 12 molars,6 on the upper and 6 on the lower jaw. Additionally, rabbits have 10 premolars, 6 upper and 4 lower.
• Peg-shaped teeth
The tiny incisors besides the larger top and bottom incisors are known as peg teeth. A bunny has a set of peg teeth that are normally tucked behind its large incisors.
How do you know if your rabbit’s teeth are too long?
Inspect your bunny’s teeth occasionally to see whether they suffer from malocclusion. This particular condition is the imperfect positioning of their teeth when their jawbone is shut. To check whether your rabbit is suffering from malocclusion, gently part the front of its mouth to inspect its dental formula. In short, pointed or long teeth indicate poor teeth alignment or irregularity. In other words, you should visit a veterinarian as soon as possible to have your rabbit’s teeth trimmed or fixed.
A rabbit that drools often can be a tell-tale sign of a dental problem. Quite often, it’s due to mouth soreness as a result of misaligned or long teeth.
• Bulges along the jawline
Another indicator that’s often associated with long rabbit teeth is the formation of bulges along their jawline. In other words, it’s usually brought by their long teeth grinding against their jawline.
• Swollen Cheeks
A rabbit with swollen cheeks could most likely be the result of overgrowth teeth. The swelling is caused by an infection and can either be on one or both cheeks, therefore always be on the lookout.
• Loss of appetite
Dental problems such as long teeth often result in less feeding which eventually leads to weight loss. It is therefore highly recommended to take your bunnies to the vet when you notice signs of appetite loss. It’s worth pointing out however that, a rabbit that’s suddenly lost interest in eating can also be due to other ailments as well.
• Eye infections
Discharge or swelling around a rabbit’s eye quite often is a result of a dental problem. If left untreated, this condition can turn severe leading to monocular vision or blindness.
• Diet change
A change in diet is another tell-tale sign that your bunny might be suffering from overgrown teeth. Quite often, bunnies with dental problems often prefer to eat softer food as opposed to hard textured hay or pellets.
Why do rabbit teeth never stop growing?
Rabbit’s teeth grow continuously over time to enable them to graze constantly and survive in the wild. For example, a wild rabbit’s diet consists mainly of grass, However, they also eat branches, twigs, or rough weeds which essentially trim their teeth in the long run.
On the other hand, domesticated rabbits just like their wild counterparts also have continuously growing teeth. Keeping their teeth in check, therefore, entails feeding them mainly hay, specific twigs, and branches as we shall see below.
What can bunnies chew to maintain healthy teeth?
Apart from hay, it’s also advisable to give your rabbits small fresh twigs and branches to chew to help wear their teeth down. The key, however, is to switch things up or provide them with variety. Specifically, the twigs and branches from blackberry, raspberry, pinewood, cottonwood, aspen, apple, and willow are recommended. Additionally, you can also introduce wood chew toys.
How to maintain healthy rabbit teeth
• Proper diet
If you want to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy then offer them a diet that consists of hard textured food. Besides hay and dried grass, offer them fresh fruits and veggies that add nutritional value.
• Teeth trimming
Another way to maintain your bunny’s teeth is to have them trimmed professionally. For instance, have your vet trim your pet’s incisors if they’re slightly or excessively long.
• Tooth extraction
Extracting your rabbit’s teeth is recommended, more so, incisors with soft tissue damage which causes pain when your pet chews. In other words, teeth that are less likely to wear off due to this particular condition are better off being extracted by an experienced veterinarian.
This particular procedure involves a vet removing a bunny’s inflamed gum tissue, the end of their tooth root while leaving the top of the root intact. The procedure essentially helps to prevent the continued growth of a rabbit’s tooth, under certain circumstances.
Dental problem is one of the most common rabbit health-related issues you need to keep an eye out for. It is therefore advisable to look for any signs of teeth discoloration, misalignment, or overgrowth, at least once per week. Finally, always take your bunnies to the vet whenever they show any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above.