4 Things Rabbit Owners Need To Know About Malocclusion

Posted on: 2 November 2015

Rabbit teeth are very different from human teeth. Rabbits have open-rooted teeth, which means that they grow continuously throughout their lives. This means that they don't need to worry about their teeth becoming worn down, but it presents other problems, like malocclusion. Here are four things you need to know about rabbits and malocclusion.

What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion means that your rabbit's teeth are overgrown. Overgrown teeth don't come together properly, which makes it hard for your rabbit to bite and chew food. These sharp, overgrown teeth can cut your rabbit's tongue or the insides of their cheeks. These cuts can become infected.

Overgrown teeth don't just grow outwards, they also grow inwards. This means that the roots of your rabbit's teeth will grow deeper into their upper and lower jaws. These roots can lead to abscesses (pockets of pus) within the jawbones.

What causes it?

Malocclusion can occur if your rabbit doesn't get the opportunity to gnaw and wear down their teeth. This may be the result of an improper diet. Rabbits need constant access to hay as chewing on hay helps them to keep their teeth worn down. It can also be the result of a lack of appropriate chew toys. Chew toys are more than just fun for your rabbit; they help keep your rabbit's teeth healthy.

How is malocclusion treated?

If your rabbit's teeth become overgrown, introducing hay or chew toys won't be enough to solve the problem. Once the teeth become overgrown, your rabbit can't bite effectively. This keeps them from being able to wear down their teeth. You'll need to take your rabbit to the vet for treatment.

Your vet will be able to trim your rabbit's overgrown teeth. This experience can be painful and stressful for rabbits, so the procedure will be performed under anesthesia to make it easier. If your rabbit hasn't developed any complications as a result of their dental problem, no further treatment will be required.

If your rabbit has developed related problems like cuts or abscesses, those issues will need to be dealt with. Cuts can be cleaned, abscesses can be drained, and your pet may be given antibiotics to clear up any remaining infections.

Can you prevent it?

You can prevent malocclusion by giving your rabbit hay and chew toys. Make sure to choose rabbit-appropriate chew toys such as wood chews and replace the toys when they get worn out or develop sharp edges. Have your vet regularly examine your rabbit's teeth and even clean them, to make sure that they aren't developing a problem.

For more information, contact a professional like those at MontClair Veterinary Hospital.