How can tooth malocclusion in rabbits and rodents be prevented?
For the teeth of rabbits and rodents to wear down normally, they must spend enough time chewing and the right food is important. There is a complex interplay between the composition of their diet, the grinding of the food components and the time between the sensation of hunger and the onset of satiation. The amount of roughage in the food (lots of hay and greens) plays a crucial role.
How does tooth malocclusion develop in rabbits and rodents?
If this interplay is disturbed the molar teeth grow upwards, the teeth get too long, the mouth is opened passively as a result and the pressure between the upper and lower molars increases enormously. Disturbances of this equilibrium are usually due to pain and there are many causes for this. For example, a painful process may have arisen somewhere in the mouth that leads to certain areas or entire quadrants in the mouth being avoided. Or there is a systemic disease, that is, a disease that involves a number of organs. The animal loses its appetite, the teeth are no longer used and grow in length unchecked until this excessive growth itself becomes the problem.
Curved, crooked teeth, chronic inflammation of the periodontium or teeth with markedly altered dental enamel and dentine can develop, as the tooth-forming cells are permanently damaged. In advanced cases, this leads to changes in the adjacent bone and even dissolution of the bone and eruption under the skin. An abscess has developed and the animal’s cheek is swollen.
In this situation, the treatment of choice is extraction of the diseased teeth, appropriate therapy of the abscess and good wound management.
Things should not go so far. This process can be markedly slowed down if not halted completely by targeted and regular grinding and shortening of the tooth crowns.
By regularly shortening the tooth crowns to a physiological length, the rabbit starts to chew normally again, it chews without pain, in a natural manner and using all its teeth. The intervals between corrective dental treatment should not be so long that chewing is obviously altered again. Rather, the teeth should always be so short that the rabbit can chew without pain. The optimal interval varies individually.
Grinding the rabbit’s teeth with the necessary degree of care is only possible with appropriate sedation and suitable pain management.