Overgrown teeth in rabbits is a common problem that some bunny breeds may be genetically predisposed to or it can be acquired, i.e., it can be caused by other secondary factors including low fiber diets, some nutritional deficiencies, among other factors, especially in domestic rabbits.
We have already tackled the causes of overgrown teeth as well as malocclusion in rabbits which is one of the main reasons why the overgrowth may occur. Remember bunnies' teeth keep growing and they can be too long for one or the other reasons.
This post intends to cover trimming including the various techniques used. Note that the post is intended for general knowledge since the various trimming procedures should be done by a registered vet so as not only to reduce the overgrown teeth but also to address the underlying causes and see if they can be fixed.
Here are the common trimming techniques you should know:
Rabbit teeth clipping
Quick research will let you know that this is one of the commonly recommended ways to keep your rabbit’s teeth short. It involves the use of various rabbit teeth clippers including nail clippers as well as nail guillotine clippers and it is done like how to nail clipping is done.
This method is the cheapest, easiest and fastest with some people recommending it be done at home by people who own these pets, especially for clipping overgrown incisors. However, we do not recommend this method due to the following reasons:
- It can damage the enamel leading to splintering and longitudinal teeth fractures which can expose the pulp, expose it to pathogens, and increase the risk of developing tooth abscesses. Also, exposing the pulp will obviously be very painful and if damaged, the teeth will stop growing.
- It can lead to teeth destabilization that may cause gums to bleed as you press hard to clip a tooth which is much stronger than the nails.
- Furthermore, during the process, it is possible for your rabbit’s oral soft tissues to be injured or you may also get injured.
- It is difficult to clip cheek teeth if they have also been elongated or have dental spurs.
- There is a possibility of jaw fractures during the process if you do not handle these pets with care.
Remember trimming should be done regularly after every 4-6 weeks. The chances of the above issues happening is quite high and for sake of the animal’s welfare, do not clip your rabbit’s teeth.
Using a dental burring tool
Reducing tooth height can be conveniently be done using “either a thin cutting bur such as a tapered coarse grit diamond bur or a thin crosscut fissure tungsten carbide bur.”  A high speed motorized handheld piece especially the one using an air turbine will be quite efficient.
However, low-speed ones such as the straight handpiece and latch grip contra-angle handpiece can also be used. Unfortunately, they are less convenient.
This method of trimming your bunny’s teeth is quite effective, and safe compared to clipping. It can be done to sedated or conscious rabbits. If done to conscious ones, avoid water spraying to cool down the cutting burr and the teeth being cut down since it may stress these pets and make them want to struggle.
Also, this device can be used to reduce the height of premolars and molars without any risk of damaging the periapical and periodontal tissues. When using this trimmer for the cheek teeth, you need to opt for a bur with a guard at its end to avoid injuries. Also, you can avoid iatrogenic soft tissue injuries by using a soft tissue protector.
Finally, cut one tooth at a time and wipe off any accumulation of powdered teeth using a damp sterilized cotton pad. Care must be taken to avoid injuries to the pet or the operator including eye protection.
Rabbit teeth filing
This is another technique commonly used on rabbit teeth spurs or spikes on premolars and molars but is less effective and may not address the causative problems or correct tooth curvature which may happen due to excessive occlusion.
Also, the force used may affect teeth sockets making your rabbit's teeth lose and cause apical and periodontal damage. This is the same case for people who opt for wire cutters. They have similar problems.
These are rotary discs that can be used to cut a rabbit’s teeth. They are riskier especially when used on premolars and molars and they often present challenges that filling, and clipping has.
Things to note
Radiographs may be very necessary during any of the trimming procedure especially in incisors since they erupt fast and their pulp may extrude beyond the gumline. This can happen also to premolars and molars especially in cases where there is much occlusion pressure that may affect elongation or eruption.
Therefore, a radiograph should be able to show you where the pulp reaches to avoid cutting close to it during the trimming exercise.
Rabbit teeth trimming cost
The cost you will incur will depend on the method used and whether anesthesia is used or not. Also, it will vary from one place to another and from one vet to another.
On average, the rabbit teeth trimming cost will be $20-$40. It might sound not much but you will need it regularly done. However, this cost should not be confused with rabbit dental surgeries and the cost of rabbit tooth extraction.
Other options to keep your rabbit’s teeth short
Besides trimming, you can consider the following to help deal with this dental problem.
Grassy hay such as Oxbow Timothy Hay, fresh vegetables, and dried grass with some small amounts of wild vegetation may help wear down your rabbit’s teeth after trimming.
Extraction may be contemplated, and it works better for incisors to avoid frequent trips to your vet. Also, it can be recommended if there is a lot of soft tissue damage, the problem is causing abscesses, blockage of tear ducts, among other problems or serious dental diseases.
However, for molars and premolars, it might not be so easy since a deformed and elongated tooth may make it impossible to remove just one tooth. Removing more than a tooth has been associated with perioperative fatalities that result from extreme stress.
Also, the opposing tooth will require to be maintained since it will not be worn out during mastication, especially for the premolars and molars. For incisors, it is possible to extract all of them.
This is intended to stop further teeth growth by getting rid of its growing apex. Your vet will require some radiographs to do so and it can be used on molars and premolars.
You have noted the risks associated with clipping your rabbit’s teeth by yourself. Even if the clipping is done successfully, still an oral examination as well as treating any lesions caused by the elongation is still very necessary.
Do not forget to frequently check your bunny’s teeth to check for any signs of overgrowth. Do this once a week and if you notice any signs, you need to talk to your vet.