Rabbit Teeth: Everything You Need To Know About Rabbit Teeth Overgrowth Teeth

 Rabbits are well known for their buck teeth. They may be small and reminiscent of other large-toothed creatures like hamsters and guinea pigs, but they are not rodents. Rabbits are actually lagomorphs in the Leporidae family, and people have kept them as livestock since the Middle Ages. In Europe hundreds of years ago, rabbits were first domesticated as sources of meat and fur rather than as pets. Today they are still kept as livestock, but are much more popular as cute furry animals.

Rabbit Teeth: Everything You Need To Know About Rabbit Teeth
Rabbit Teeth: Everything You Need To Know About Rabbit Teeth

 How many teeth do rabbits have? 2? 4? 6? A rabbit, believe it or not, has 28 teeth. That's a lot of chompers for a bunny to keep running! They only like to show us the four incisors; two up and two down. These are the vegetable cutters. Rabbits then have two extra "peg teeth" behind the top two, as well as 6 upper premolars, 6 upper molars, 4 lower premolars, and 6 lower molars. This is where the real magic happens. Those 22 secret back teeth ("cheek teeth") have a lot of work to do, but can sometimes cause bunny teeth problems.

 Dental issues are one of the most common reasons a rabbit is taken to the vet. Rabbits' teeth grow continuously (about 2-3mm per week) and should therefore be checked regularly. Get into the habit of checking your rabbit's teeth weekly so that minor issues don't get overlooked and then become major issues. Here, we'll find out everything you ever wanted to know about rabbit teeth and how to make sure your pet rabbit keeps their pearly whites healthy and strong.

This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.

Caring For Your Rabbit's Teeth

 You may be relieved to know that you don't need to brush your rabbit's teeth...most problems are due to genetic defects or poor nutrition. Hay or grass should be the mainstay of your rabbit's diet and he should always have hay in his cage to chew on and wear down his teeth.

 Weekly dental checks are an important part of caring for your rabbit. This should include checking the head and face, incisors and cheek teeth. Rabbits have 28 teeth in total:

  • Two upper incisors and two lower incisors. Just behind the upper incisors are the "peg teeth", but these small teeth rarely cause problems
  • Three molars on each side and six cheek teeth are present in the upper jaw.
  • In the lower jaw, there were three molars and two premolars on each side.

 Begin the dental check with your pet between your knees and facing you. Touch around the head and face for any swelling or bulging. If your rabbit flinches, there may be a sore area inside his mouth. The underside of their chin may look bumpy because that's where their scent gland is.

 To check their incisors, gently spread their lips apart and check that their four large teeth (two top and two bottom) aren't loose. Their gums should be pink and healthy. If the teeth don't meet, your rabbit could have a malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth). If the teeth are badly occluded, they will not wear down properly and the teeth will overgrow (more on this later).

 The cheek teeth (or molars) are further back in the mouth and to check them you need to go to the vet for a full dental exam with your rabbit under general anesthesia or heavy sedation. This usually happens on a yearly basis, but between these checks you should check for any issues.

Check for signs of tooth pain, periodontal infection and abscess such as:

  • Drool
  • Inflammation, pain, or swelling under the chin and around the jaw
  • bad breath
  • Runny eyes (when the roots of overgrown upper teeth impinge on the nasolacrimal tear duct)
  • teeth grinding
  • Any change in your rabbit's appetite (for example, stops eating and loses weight or only eats soft foods)
  • Any changes in your rabbit's behavior (e.g. becoming reclusive or moody)

Causes Of Dental Problems In Rabbits

 According to Carolynn Harvey, DVM, of Chabot Veterinary Hospital, "Problems that often arise in the oral cavity include malocclusion of the incisors, cracked or broken teeth, spikes or spurs on the cheek teeth, foreign bodies, abscesses and tooth roots and/or bone infections.Early detection is often crucial for the outcome of these problems.Due to bad tooth wear, molars can become too long and bend painfully in the cheek or tongue. Overgrown teeth can also start to bump together and lead to inflammation around the roots of the teeth. This can lead to a nasty infection and hard-to-treat abscesses.

 Just like your high school nemesis, some bunnies humbly have perfect biters. They can get away with being hay snobs and never have a problem. Maybe they're munching on four-leaf clover? Other rabbits, even with the best care, are not so lucky. Indeed, dental problems can be hereditary. Maybe the rabbit you adopted hasn't had enough hay in the past and is catching up, or maybe it just doesn't have the right genes. Injuries, changes in jaw formation, and bone disease can also cause dental problems.

Symptoms Of Dental Problems In Rabbits

 Sometimes the first sign of a bunny tooth problem is just a funny feeling. You know this one. Is your rabbit more moody than usual or more reclusive? Dental disease can be painful. Your rabbit may begin to lose weight if eating becomes too painful or difficult. He may also start drooling and you will start to notice a perma-stinky, wet chin of drool. Your rabbit may seem hungry, but can't eat. He might start to prefer softer foods to harder foods or put pieces in his mouth just to spit them out. Sometimes rabbits will even have obvious swelling and bumps around the jaw or discharge from the eyes.

 The front teeth could begin to converge at an odd angle or begin to wear diagonally. Most cases of incisor malocclusion are congenital and occur in young rabbits. Incisor changes can mean there is a problem with the back teeth, however, much more common in older rabbits or those without adequate access to hay.

Dental Problems

 Rabbits are especially prone to dental issues because they have such specialized teeth. This is especially true when it comes to pet rabbits, who may be born with (birth) dental defects, sustain injuries, or develop "bad" teeth due to poor nutrition. Let's take a look at some of the most common diseases that affect rabbit teeth, what owners can do to prevent dental problems, and what can be done once a problem has arisen.


 The most common health problems in pet rabbits come from dental issues. Teeth, especially the incisors, can become misaligned due to injury or poor nutrition. Rabbits are particularly prone to broken teeth, as well as broken jaws. If these injuries are left untreated or improperly treated, the teeth can grow back at the wrong angle, causing misalignment. Misalignments can be extremely dangerous to a rabbit's health if left untreated. 

 However, if misalignments are detected early, veterinarians may be able to correct them through grading or surgical procedures. Teeth can also become misaligned due to overgrowth. Overgrowth is largely preventable with proper diet, but trauma or birth defects can lead to misalignment or overgrowth despite proper diet.

Overgrowth Teeth

 Because they spend so much time eating, rabbits in the wild rarely experience tooth overgrowth. In addition, they don't have many food options besides their regular diet. Pet and breeding rabbits, however, are at risk of overgrown incisors and cheek teeth if they are not fed the proper diet. Cheek teeth can become so overgrown that they trap the rabbit's tongue, making feeding difficult or impossible.

Overgrowth Teeth
Overgrowth Teeth

 To prevent tooth overgrowth, rabbits need an unlimited supply of hay, grass, or alfalfa to chew on. They need very little other food, although this can be supplemented with rabbit pellets or vegetables. However, these foods should be given sparingly, and rabbits do not need to be fed any type of grain. These types of foods promote an incorrect up and down chewing motion, rather than the normal side-to-side chewing motion that rabbits use when chewing grass.

 Rabbits with overgrown teeth often show few physical signs. Owners should watch for decreased appetite, lethargy, food falling out of mouth, weight loss, drooling, decreased grooming, runny nose, reduced defecation, swelling or squeaking of teeth. If you suspect your rabbit has overgrown or misaligned teeth, it's important to seek veterinary care immediately.

What Should I Do About Overgrown Rabbit Teeth?

 It is always preferable to avoid dental issues in the first place. Malocclusion is a common genetic condition that is inherited in rabbits, and those affected shouldn't be used for breeding. However, the condition can also develop due to poor diet or trauma to the teeth and jaw, such as pulling their incisors over the cage wire.

 The normal length of your rabbit's teeth is maintained by the wearing action of the opposing teeth. Malocclusion can lead to overgrowth of incisors, premolars, and molars, and lead to difficulty eating and drinking. Spikes in their teeth can develop into painful mouth ulcers. Rabbits need an abrasive diet to wear down their teeth, so always make sure they have an unlimited supply of fresh hay and grass. Another way to provide your rabbit with something abrasive to chew on is by using straw or wicker mats, mats, baskets, etc.

 It's important to check your rabbit's teeth once a week, checking for any signs of pain and looking for teeth that have overgrown and are not meeting properly. Never be tempted to trim the size of overgrown teeth at home with wire cutters, nail clippers, etc. These are NOT recommended as it can lead to chipping or chipping of the teeth. Instead, make an appointment with your veterinarian to treat your rabbit's malocclusion.

How To Treat Overgrown Rabbit Teeth

 Your veterinarian will use a dental drill to control these invasive incisors. Frequent deburring of the teeth may be necessary - perhaps every 2-3 weeks. Incisors can be removed and rabbits can do just fine without their incisors. However, the roots of the teeth are often curved, which can make surgery difficult.

 Maloccluded cheek teeth may require regular treatment under anesthesia to remove sharp edges. The procedure may need to be done every 4-6 weeks, but can sometimes be left for 6-12 months. Cheek teeth can be extracted, but the surgery is complicated and most veterinarians refer the rabbit to a specialist, which can be expensive.


What is special about rabbit teeth?

 Since rabbits are heterodonts, they have a variety of tooth types. They are also hypsodonts, which means their back teeth have high crowns for chewing. But in addition to this, rabbits have a dental peculiarity that allows them to continue to grow throughout their lives.

 Rabbits are elodonts, which means that their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. In addition, their teeth are root-like. Root teeth do not have true roots and tooth enamel actually grows below the gum line. This means that, in rabbits, their teeth are exactly the same below the gumline as above the gumline; a rarity in the animal kingdom.

How many teeth do rabbits have?

 Rabbits are herbivorous grazers; they spend a large part of their life chewing. For this reason, they need reliable teeth. They have plenty too; 28 to be exact. Their teeth can be divided into; incisors, premolars and molars – although premolars and molars are identical and are almost always generalized as "cheek teeth".

Why are rabbit teeth so big?

 Why are the front teeth of rabbits so prominent? Now, the answer is less complicated than you might imagine.

 Rabbits are grazers. In the wild, they eat grass, hay, and fiber-rich plants. In order to put these plants in their mouths, they must be able to bite them. This is where chisel-shaped incisors come in.

 Rabbits have large incisors for biting tough plants. Once they have bitten the greens, they use their tongue to move them into the back of their mouth. From there, the cheek teeth take over, chewing and re-chewing the food until it is smooth enough to swallow. Without large incisors, rabbits could never cut their food and put it in their mouth.

Why Your Rabbit Never Stops Chewing?

 As mentioned above, the reason wild rabbits almost never suffer from dental problems is because they eat a high fiber diet and constantly chew. Rabbits are thorough chewers and their technique involves highly organized tongue movements combined with up to 120 jaw movements per minute.

 Due to the nature of their jaw muscles, rabbits chew both vertically and horizontally. That's enough to keep their teeth in good shape - as long as their teeth are perfectly aligned.

My rabbit grinds his teeth, should I be worried?

 Rabbits grind their teeth when they are in pain or under stress, especially if it is a loud grinding noise. This may indicate a dental problem that may require veterinary treatment.

What about chattering teeth?

 Rabbit teeth chattering can mean that your rabbit is in pain or distress, especially if he is noisy. A slight squeaking sound (called a "purr") means your rabbit is happy and content.

Can I brush my rabbit's teeth?

 It is not necessary to brush your rabbit's teeth. Chewing the hay that makes up the majority of a healthy diet for a rabbit naturally cuts its teeth to the proper length. While wearing down their teeth, this high-fiber diet also cleans their teeth and prevents the buildup of plaque and bacteria that cause cavities.

 Almost always, providing enough hay and chew toys is sufficient to maintain your rabbit's teeth in good condition. If you add to that regular checkups with your vet and grooming sessions that include monitoring your rabbit's teeth, their risk of dental problems decreases even further.

Also, most pet toothpastes on the market are created for dogs…and even that is of very questionable utility.

In conclusion: When should you go to the vet?

 Dental problems can be extremely painful. Rabbits are masters at disguising themselves when in pain, so keep an eye out for telltale signs when giving your rabbit a weekly dental checkup. While rabbits should have a full dental checkup with their veterinarian every year, if you notice any issues, don't wait until that appointment is due.

When should you go to the vet?
When should you go to the vet?

 It's always best to stop any small dental problem before it becomes big, painful and costly, so schedule another appointment. To keep your rabbit's teeth healthy, it's important that he eats a healthy diet and gets regular dental checkups - weekly at home and annually at the vet - to prevent his teeth from becoming invaded and affect his general state of health.

Only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, are used by Nodisk One to substantiate the information in our articles.