Rabbit Diseases - Malocclusion

 
Malocclusion
  • Malocclusion, referring to the misalignment of teeth, is a common ailment of the house rabbit.
  • A rabbit's mouth consists of incisors, premolars, and molars. There are 6 incisors total, 4 located on top of the mouth and 2 located on the bottom. The remaining teeth in a rabbit's mouth consist of premolars and molars located in the back and on either side of the mouth. The incisors serve to grab and cut their food while the molars serve in grinding food down.
  • Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Normal chewing action wears them down just to the point that they don’t overgrow. This is one of the reasons it is important to feed your rabbit a high fiber diet.
  • A rabbit that has a malocclusion does not have this normal wearing action and can suffer overgrown teeth. This problem can be serious enough to inhibit the ability to eat.
  • Most rabbits do fine if their teeth are trimmed periodically.


    • Causes:
    • Malocclusion is caused by three possible factors: genetic/ heredity, facial trauma, or bacterial infections.
    • Heredity: This type of tooth problem is especially common in dwarf rabbits where they can actually be born with the affliction.
    • Facial or head trauma can also lead to the disruption of natural tooth growth.
    • Bacterial infections can cause teeth to grow in odd directions.

      Signs:
    • Decrease or absence of appetite
    • Interested in but avoids eating food
    • Eye and/or nasal discharge
    • Drooling
    • Teeth growing abnormally long
    • Sores developing in or near the mouth
    • Swelling around the jaw
    • Increased thirst
    • Food expelled from mouth after chewing

      Treatment of malocclusion of teeth Treatment
    • If you notice any signs that indicate your pet rabbit may be suffering from malocclusion take him to a vet immediately.
    • If left untreated malocclusion can cause the teeth to curl; result in biting of the lips, cheeks, tongue, and gums; and development of sharp spurs on the molars.
    • Malocclusion caused by genetic problems or trauma needs regular vet care.
    • Your vet will clip the incisors and grind down the molars to the proper length and treat ulcers that develop inside the rabbit's mouth.
    • Overgrown front teeth can be clipped without the need for anaesthetic or may even be removed altogether. Overgrown back teeth trimming should be done under general anaesthetic.

      Prevention
    • One of the most important things you can do to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy is to feed a high fiber diet.
    • Pet rabbits who eat pellets exclusively develop overgrown teeth because they eat a smaller volume of food and because the pellets don't need enough chewing to keep the teeth ground down. If your rabbit's teeth tend to overgrow, remove pellets from his diet and feed him hay and fresh vegetables instead.
    • Regular exams by your vet will also catch this problem before teeth get infected or your rabbit becomes ill.
    • Adopt a rabbit from a rescue centre that is over a year old. Even if they are of a breed which is prone to dental disease, the problem will almost certainly have manifested itself by this age.