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Dental Health

by L. Seeman, MSN

Ben Meet Ben. This darling little guy was abandoned, and found running for his life across a busy highway. When rescued, we discovered Ben could hardly eat any food due to a severe overgrowth of his front incisors. He was taken to the vet to have the teeth filed down.




Ben's Overgrown Front Teeth

This is what an overgrowth of the front incisors looks like. Ben had his teeth filed down, but they continued to grow in crooked. This prevented the normal wearing down of the teeth to occur. After having his teeth filed down regularly over several months, our vet, Dr. Wendy Behm at Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates in Purcellville, Virginia, advised pulling his front teeth. She explained the front incisors chop the food and the back molars chew the food. Since Ben was only having his front teeth extracted, his back teeth would still be able to chew. All we had to do was chop his food in smaller pieces.

Ben Having His Teeth Pulled Dr. Behm has a lot of experience with rabbits, and is especially proficient in dental procedures. She anesthetized Ben and extracted his front incisors. Not an easy job when one realizes how far the roots of the teeth go down. Rabbit teeth grow approximately 5 inches per year. When the teeth are properly aligned, chewing food wears the teeth down naturally. The side to side motion required for chewing hay, wears down the back molars. If the teeth are not properly aligned, they continue to grow and cause difficulties.

Ben's Mouth Post-surgery This is what Ben looks like after surgery. Having his front incisors extracted has not limited Ben's love of food. He has a very healthy appetite and seems happier since he doesn't have to go to the vet every month to have his teeth filed down.

Ben and His Toothbrush Just to be on the safe side, Dr. Behm gave Ben a lesson in brushing his teeth. He follows her instructions daily. Thank you Dr. Behm!

Ben's Bad Tooth You can see why Ben had trouble eating. General Malocclusion is a common cause of dental disease in rabbits. It can be caused by congenital deformity, dietary problems, trauma, fracture, or infection. Clinical signs include: loss of appetite, poor grooming, and/or lack of eating cecotrophs. The back molars can also grow abnormally but these are usually harder to treat. Additional symptoms may include: weight loss, excessive salivation, and/or difficulty chewing and swallowing food. If you notice any of these signs, please see an experienced rabbit vet immediately.