Common dental disorders of rabbits




Causes for dental disease in rabbits


    Inbreeding, congenital causes, e.g. malocclusion of the incisors, as seen more frequently in dwarf breeds;

    Improper wearing, due to a wrong diet, low in hay or fiber-rich food;

    Trauma, e.g. after a fall on the nose, clipping with a nail cutter;

    Overly prominent jaw (prognathism) or too short jaw (brachygnathism).

Symptoms associated with dental disease


Iris Hadar

The head movement done by Puppit, a female rabbit is characteristic of a rabbit that suffers discomfort and pain from a dental issue and gum lesions. During a vet check-up, an elongated molar was discovered and treated. After treatment, Puppit ate well and the head movement stopped.


    Obesity or decreased food intake, anorexia, leading to weight loss;

    Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia);

    Digestive problems, including stasis;

    Changes in the size, shape or amount of fecal production, diarrhea;

    Drooling, or the production of excessive saliva, accompanied by wet fur under the chin, and forelimbs;

    Ocular discharge (e.g. epiphora, dacryocystitis);

    Bulging eyes (exophthalmia);

    Nasal discharge;

    Respiratory distress (dyspnea);

    Presence of lumps, facial abscesses;

    Poor coat, patchy baldness (alopecia).

Correction of dental disorders should always and only be done by an experienced veterinarian

The size of the oral cavity of the rabbit is small, and motion range of the jaws is limited. This makes examination of the oral cavity with an otoscope on a conscious rabbit difficult. Dental problems or lesions can easily be overlooked.


In the case dental disease is suspected or observed, the oral examination made on a conscious rabbit should be followed by an examination under full anesthesia, accompanied by radiographies of the skull under various angles, in order to assess the health of the tooth roots, the presence of an abscess or osteomyelitis (bone inflammation).

Trying to correct teeth at home is a cause of distress and pain for the rabbit. It can moreover lead to fracture of the tooth in the visible part or under the gum line, the tooth stops growing after damaged of the tooth root (edodontic diseases), or it can lead to infection of the tooth root. Malocclusion often becomes worse, after nail clipping !!!



Common disorders

Illustration: property

Malocclusion of upper maxillary incisors

Illustration: property

Malocclusion of maxillary and mandibular incisors

Illustration: property

Molar overgrowth

Illustration: property

Presence of molar spurs

Illustration: property


Video: Overview of dental problems in rabbits, by Debbie Hanson.

Speaking: Roy Cruzen (Steeplechase Animal Hospital, Houston, USA), with the rabbit Pixel.

Dental exam