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Everything you

should know about

Pet Rabbit's Teeth

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If you have pet rabbits, you probably know that a good
rabbit keeper must always be concerned with their teeth
because the condition of their teeth so much affects their

Here are some basic facts about rabbit teeth.

* Adult rabbits have twenty-eight teeth. There are two pairs
of incisors in the top front of their mouths, with the
second pair being much smaller and behind the large front
teeth. There is also a pair of incisors at the front of the
lower jaw.

* Rabbits don't have canine teeth, but they do have
premolars and molars, called "cheek teeth". (Useful note:
There is a good-sized space between the incisors and the
cheek teeth that helps when you need to give the rabbit food
or medicine by syringe.)

* Unlike our own teeth, rabbit teeth have no enamel and wear
down quickly. The teeth of rabbits are also "open-rooted,"
meaning that they never stop growing throughout the rabbit's
life. Happily, the nerves in rabbit teeth stop just below
the gum line, so the constant wearing doesn't cause the
rabbit any pain.

* Rabbits have a strong instinct to gnaw, and domestic
rabbits should always be supplied with plenty of clean grass
hay as well as nontoxic wood branches or toys for gnawing,
in order to prevent overgrowth of the incisors.

* Because rabbit's teeth are made to wear down quickly, an
improper diet can cause problems with the teeth in just a
few days. Grass and other greens wear the teeth down much
more than commercial pellets do. Pellets are chewed mostly
with the cheek teeth, which only grinds part of the incisors
and can result in tooth spurs that cause the rabbit a lot of
pain and stop it from eating properly.

* If the rabbit's dentition and diet are both normal, the
teeth won't need much care, as the roughage in its diet will
keep the incisors properly worn down and the chewing will
keep the cheek teeth well aligned.

* Incisor mismatches (malocclusion) is usually caused by the
lower teeth protruding in front of the upper teeth. In these
cases the upper teeth curve backwards into the mouth and the
lower teeth may grow outside the mouth. When this happens
the rabbit is unable to eat properly.

* Malocclusion of the cheek teeth (molars) often causes
sharp edges on the teeth due to uneven wear. These sharp
edges cause injuries to the rabbit's cheeks and tongue and
cause the rabbit pain as well as leading to infection.

Have your rabbit's teeth checked every time. If your rabbit
has malocclusion, your veterinarian will need to trim its

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