Causes, examination and treatment of dental disease in rabbits

01 April 2013
15 mins read
Volume 4 · Issue 3


There are numerous dental problems that can affect rabbits including tooth root abscesses, periodontitis, jaw abnormalities, caries, and traumatic injury, however, the most common problems are malocclusions and most of these can be attributed to lack of wear and tooth elongation. Dental disease can be pronounced with visible protrusion of overgrown incisors, but often disease can only be assumed by observing clinical signs such as anorexia, weight loss, swelling of the jaw, hypersalivation, and an inability to fully close the mouth. The incidence of dental disease is very high so rabbits should be routinely examined for evidence of dental disease. Veterinary nurses should also actively educate clients about dental disease including preventative care, correct husbandry and routine observations for signs indicating early onset disease.

In rabbits, as with other animals, optimal condition and wellbeing is closely linked to dental health. Maintaining dental health in most breeds of rabbit is closely linked with diet and when the rabbit has ample opportunities to chew on coarse fibrous grasses, its teeth are largely able to maintain efficiency and promote overall dental wellbeing. When dental health starts to decline, there are a number of problems that can occur, which are specific to the rabbit's unique anatomy and physiology. Continual growth of the teeth can lead to several conditions related to tooth overgrowth and occlusion; disease can progress quickly as the animal grows less able to close the mouth or chew effectively.

Dental disease is very common in rabbits but detection of disease can be challenging. It is vitally important that any abnormalities are identified as early as possible before serious problems occur with digestion. All rabbits should be routinely examined for signs of malocclusion and clients should be educated to detect early signs of disease and to support dental and digestive health with adequate opportunities to chew high-fibre vegetation.

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