Rabbits are susceptible to many serious dental problems, so you need to be aware of the many things that can go wrong with your pet's teeth. Here are three serious dental problems that can affect pet rabbit and the proper oral care to give them.
If your rabbit suffers from a fall or other accident, it may break one or more of its teeth. Minor chips or not a problem, but more severe breaks can be serious. If you notice that one of your rabbit's teeth has a jagged edge, has broken off at the jawline, or is bleeding, their break requires veterinary attention
The jagged edges of broken teeth can cut your pet's oral tissues, which can lead to problems like ulcers and infections. If tooth has broken off at the jawline, the matching tooth on the opposite jaw may overgrow as there is now no opposing tooth to wear it down. If the tooth is bleeding, your rabbit's pulp is exposed, and when that happens, the pulp can get infected in the tooth can die.
Your vet can help protect your rabbit from the complications of broken teeth. If the tooth is jagged, it can be trimmed to make the edge smoother. If the tooth has broken off at the gum line, your vet can trim the opposing tooth to help it remain an appropriate size. If the pulp is exposed, your vet can extract the tooth to prevent an infection, and the tooth will eventually grow back.
Tooth abscesses are pockets of pus beneath the teeth or underneath the gums. They can form if the broken tooth becomes infected or if a piece of hay or a splinter of wood gets stuck underneath your pet's gums. Rabbits with this condition will have swollen faces, and due to the pain from the infection, they may not want to eat.
This dental problem is serious because the infection can spread to other parts of your pet's body. The worst-case scenario is that the infection will spread to your pet's blood, leading to sepsis.
Your vet will need to drain the abscess. This can be done by making an incision in the gums to allow the pus to drain out by itself or by using a needle to manually dry out the pus. If the infection is stubborn, the affected teeth may need to be pulled out. Tooth extraction is fairly minor for rabbits as the teeth will eventually grow back.
Rabbits have open-rooted teeth, so their teeth will grow constantly throughout their lives. This is not a problem they are chewing on hard objects to wear down their teeth, but if they are eating soft foods or don't have access to chew toys, their teeth will grow faster than they are worn down. If your pet's teeth become overgrown, you will notice that their teeth look too long and that they are not able to close their mouth properly. Rabbits with overgrown teeth may also drool.
The issue with malocclusion is that it's hard or even impossible for your rabbit to pick up and chew their food when their teeth are too long. If your rabbit can't eat they may lose weight, and in severe cases, may suffer from gastric stasis and die.
The treatment for malocclusion is fairly straightforward. Your vet will carefully trim or file your pet's overgrown teeth to return them to their normal size. Once the teeth are normal size, your rabbit will be able to wear down their own teeth by chewing on wooden blocks, hay, or other appropriate items.
If your rabbit develops broken teeth, tooth abscesses, or malocclusion, take them to an exotics vet immediately.