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Posted By: Greg - Vet

Reggie visits the dentist to address nibbling problem

It was a case of ‘What’s up dentist?’ rather than ‘What’s up doc?’ for Reggie rabbit when he was brought into the practice with an unfortunate tooth problem. Reggie is an 18 month old Netherland Dwarf who has struggled with his front teeth over the last few months. After a series of treatments, Reggie underwent a procedure on his teeth to cure his problem, prevent frequent visits and allow him to eat comfortably.

Rabbits principally have two sets of teeth that they use to eat their food – the front teeth, or incisors, and the cheek teeth, or molars. The molars do the majority of the work in the rabbit’s diet, grinding down the all important fibre in their hay. However, the incisors - the teeth on show at the front of the mouth, are best known for gnawing and nibbling. Rabbits are meant to be constantly grazing, so unlike human teeth they constantly grow, and then usually get subsequently ground down.

However, if there is an issue such as mismatch between the upper and lower teeth, known as a malocclusion, the teeth may not meet and grind down, and instead continue to grow and grow. If left, then this can result in serious problems including an inability to eat and trauma to the cheeks and nose from an extra long tooth.

This was the case with Reggie – on his first visit to the practice, he needed all his incisors trimmed. As long as the rabbit isn’t too nervous then this can be performed without an anaesthetic during a consultation, using a dental machine rotating burr. Reggie was very well behaved for this procedure and his initial problem was instantly treated as the teeth were trimmed back to an acceptable length. Reggie left the practice able to eat comfortably again – but this was only in the short term, as the incisors were bound to regrow again, in the same manner.

Sure enough, but sooner than expected, Reggie returned with the same problem within 3 weeks. The issue was resolved with the burr as previously, but rather than keep returning Reggie to the practice every 3 weeks for the rest of his life, his owner agreed that it would be in his best interests to have these incisors extracted. Rabbits can cope fine with this as the molars do the most of the work, but the extractions required a general anaesthetic, which prevented a small amount of risk. As he was young and healthy the benefits of the procedure outweighed the risks, as this would hopefully provide an ultimate fix, rather than stressing him out repeatedly for car journeys to the practice on a regular basis for the long term.

After Reggie was admitted for his procedure, his cheek teeth were more thoroughly checked once sedated to ensure there weren’t secondary issues here – fortunately for him, there weren’t and his dental procedure could get fully under way. All four incisor teeth were gently and delicately extracted from their sockets so that they wouldn’t regrow in a fiddly, but patient and ultimately successful procedure. Reggie was discharged with pain relief and a supportive feed to be syringe fed until his mouth had fully recovered.

After a few days Reggie was eating very well indeed, and pleased that he wouldn’t have to be returning to the vets quite so regularly in future!

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