Rabbit Awareness Week is over! We had a really successful colouring competition but also some fabulous facts about rabbits. Let’s finish with this one:
Teeth grow continuously throughout a rabbit’s life. They are worn down at the tops (crowns) by the action of chewing. If the upper and lower teeth don’t meet properly, they won’t wear effectively, and that will cause serious problems. Incisors can grow to astonishing lengths and molars will develop spurs (sharp points) on the outer edge of top teeth and the inner edge of bottom teeth.
These shards will keep growing and they’ll dig into the cheeks and tongue every time your rabbit moves his mouth or tries to eat. This will be extremely painful. It’ll restrict your rabbit’s ability to eat and, if you don’t have it treated, the condition will be fatal. There can be problems below the gum-line too, in the bone of the jaws, resulting in root infections which often cause abscesses.
If your rabbit isn’t eating properly then there is a good chance that teeth may be the problem. Even rabbits with properly aligned teeth and a great diet can still get the odd spur, so if there is a loss of appetite, ask your vet to take a look at all the teeth.
Regularly feel your rabbit’s jawline. If it’s bumpy, you should ask your vet to examine his teeth. Bumpy jaws often mean overgrown roots and possible infection.
If your rabbit starts to have runny eyes, again, suspect a problem with his teeth. If upper roots overgrow, or if there is infection in the tooth roots, his tear ducts can become blocked and tears will run down his face rather than draining into the tear ducts and down his nose. If eyes are runny, ask your vet to have a look at the teeth.
Don’t leave any suspected dental problems to sort themselves out…they won’t! Your rabbit will be in great discomfort, and things will only get worse. The sooner treatment is given the better, and more serious problems can often be prevented by keeping on top of the less serious ones.