Your rabbit’s teeth are growing every day, but unchecked growth can transform your bunny into a bug-eyed, twisted-tooth beast! Don’t let those adorable buck teeth turn into tusks. Discover how to save Thumper from turning into the Rabbit of Caerbannog! This critical guide will arm you with veterinarian-approved secrets to keeping those constantly growing chompers in check. You’ll be hopping for joy as your rabbit happily munches away, teeth trimmed to the proper length. With vigilance and proper care, your long-toothed companion can evade the dentist’s drill and enjoy a healthy smile. Read on, rabbit owners, for the carotene-rich knowledge that could save your rabbit’s life!
Why Do Rabbits Have Long Teeth?
Rabbits have long teeth for a very specific reason – their diet. Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant materials. In the wild, rabbits spend much of their day grazing on grasses, leafy greens, bark, and other tough plant materials. To be able to constantly gnaw and chew on these foods, rabbits evolved long, open-rooted teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. Their upper teeth are called incisors and their lower teeth are called mandibular incisors. Both sets align closely for an efficient chewing motion. This allows rabbits to clip food efficiently with a side-to-side chewing motion. If rabbits don't wear down their teeth through lots of chewing, their teeth can overgrow causing pain and alignment issues. Domestic rabbits need attentive dental care from their owners to prevent tooth overgrowth.
How Many Teeth Do Rabbits Have?
Rabbits have 28 teeth total. They have 6 incisor teeth in their upper jaw and 6 mandibular incisor teeth in their lower jaw. Behind the incisors, they have molars known as cheek teeth. There are 2 small peg teeth (premolars) and 6 large grinding molars in each upper quadrant of the mouth. On the bottom, there are 3 premolars and 5 large grinding molars in each lower quadrant. The cheek teeth are used to grind up food before swallowing. Like incisors, rabbit molars also grow continuously through a rabbit's life. Molarmalalignment and overgrowth can cause discomfort.
How Long Should Rabbit Teeth Be?
A rabbit's incisors should overlap slightly with the top incisors sitting just over the bottom incisors when the mouth is closed. Each incisor tooth should be approximately 12-15mm long. The molars in the upper jaw grow 2-3mm per week and those in the lower jaw grow 1-2mm per week. Cheek tooth growth slows down once rabbits become adults. Their final length depends on the size of the rabbit's head and jaws. Larger rabbit breeds have longer cheek teeth than smaller breeds.
How to Stop Rabbit’s Teeth from Growing
While you can't stop a rabbit's teeth from growing entirely, you can take steps to wear teeth down to a proper length:
- Feed a Timothy hay-based diet to promote lots of chewing
- Offer chew toys like untreated wood blocks and apple tree branches
- Brush teeth weekly to prevent plaque and spur growth
- Schedule annual dental checkups to catch overgrowth early
- Ask about tooth trimming or filing if your rabbit has alignment issues
- In severe cases, surgically extract overgrown teeth as a last resort
Keeping your rabbit's teeth worn down to an appropriate length will prevent discomfort, misalignment, and dental disease.
What Can Rabbits Chew on for Their Teeth?
There are many safe, edible chew toys and treats you can give your rabbit to wear down teeth:
- Untreated wood blocks or sticks from apple, willow, aspen. Avoid wood from cherry, peach, apricot trees.
- Timothy hay stuffed into cardboard tubes, boxes or toilet paper rolls
- Hard pieces of dried pine, apple, pear or papaya
- Mineral sticks containing salt
- Hay and grass mats or balls
- Uncooked pasta or hard bread crusts
- Untreated wicker baskets or balls
Avoid feeding processed treats high in carbohydrates or sugar. Stick to healthy options that require jaw strength and chewing to help grind down teeth. Rotate chew toys to keep your rabbit interested and excited to chew.
How Fast Do Rabbit Teeth Grow?
On average, a rabbit's teeth will grow 3-5mm per week. Incisors grow faster at a rate of 2mm per week whereas molars may only grow .5mm – 1mm per week. Diet, genetics, and overall dental health impact growth rates. Older rabbits tend to have slower tooth growth as do breeds with smaller heads like the Netherland Dwarf. Larger rabbit breeds need to chew more frequently to control faster tooth growth. Get in the habit of checking your rabbit’s teeth weekly to stay on top of growth.
How Can I Tell if My Rabbit’s Teeth are Too Long?
Signs your rabbit's teeth are overgrown include:
- Discharge or watery eyes
- Difficulty chewing or dropping food
- Weight loss from decreased eating
- Spilled or wasted food
- Misaligned jaw or teeth overlapping
- Spurs or points forming on teeth
- Lumps or abscesses in the mouth
- Sneezing or runny nose from tooth roots pushing into nasal cavity
Schedule a vet visit immediately if you notice any of these signs. Leaving overgrown teeth untreated leads to malnutrition and dental disease.
What Happens When a Rabbit’s Teeth Are Overgrown
Overgrown teeth cause a cascade of health problems:
- Misaligned teeth make chewing difficult and painful
- Incisor overgrowth can cut into the tongue, palate, or cheeks
- Molar spurs can bruise or puncture the gums
- Tooth roots can grow into tear ducts and nasal cavities causing discharge
This discomfort leads to a decreased appetite and inability to properly digest food. Rabbits stop eating, rapidly lose weight, and can die. Bacteria accumulates in the uneven chewing surfaces leading to abscesses, jaw necrosis, and serious infections. Get veterinary treatment immediately if you suspect overgrown teeth.
Can You File a Rabbit’s Teeth?
Filing a rabbit's teeth is a temporary solution veterinarians may use along with diet changes to treat overgrown teeth, points, or spurs. Filing can restore proper tooth length and alignment so the rabbit can eat. However, teeth will continue growing and need routine filing every few weeks to maintain length.
Filing requires anesthesia which has risks. Like trimming nails, filing also leaves teeth with sharp points that are prone to cutting the mouth. Most vets recommend additional options like extraction or surgical modification to permanently address dental issues requiring frequent filing.
How Much Does Burring Cost?
Burring is a dental procedure to surgically remove a rabbit's overgrown molar roots. It is typically performed under anesthesia. Costs vary depending on the veterinarian, but average $300-$500 per rabbit mouth quadrant. Burring provides lasting relief from tooth root issues but does not address incisor overgrowth. Trimming and filing incisors will still be needed with regular burring. Some vets recommend full molar extraction to avoid repeat burring. This costs $800-$1000 per quadrant.
Can I Trim My Rabbit’s Teeth Myself?
It's not recommended to trim a rabbit's teeth at home. Improper trimming can fracture teeth down to the nerve causing pain and infection. The precise filing angle required is hard for amateurs to achieve. Sedating rabbits for home dental work also has life-threatening risks. Leave teeth trimming to your vet.
You can gently file away any sharp tooth points using an emery board or nail file if your vet advises it to protect your rabbit's cheeks and tongue. Avoid cutting teeth drastically shorter or shaving off more than 1-2mm of length at a time to prevent nerve exposure.Monitoring your rabbit's diet and providing chew toys is the safest DIY dental care.
Do Rabbits Regrow Lost Teeth?
Unlike rodents, rabbits cannot regrow lost teeth. They do have a second set of incisor teeth under their first set but these are not "spare teeth". The second set grows in when rabbits are around 12-16 weeks old. If baby rabbits lose their first baby teeth, these permanent teeth will still come in on schedule. However, rabbits do not regrow lost permanent teeth later in life. This makes dental health critical throughout their lifespan.
Do Baby Rabbits Shed Their Teeth?
Yes, baby rabbits will shed their smaller, temporary "milk teeth" as they mature, just like human babies. Around 12-16 weeks old, a rabbit's secondary set of permanent incisors and molars will come in behind the baby teeth which then loosen and fall out. This is a natural part of a rabbit's dental development.
Provide chew toys for discomfort. Avoid hard foods during this time that may cause retained baby teeth. Check for any retained teeth blocking incoming adult teeth. Take your rabbit to the vet if teeth haven't fallen out on their own by 5 months old. Baby teeth retention can lead to alignment problems with permanent teeth.