How to Care For Your Rabbit’s Teeth

Do you want your rabbit to have the best smile around? A rabbit's teeth require special care and attention to keep them healthy and strong. With their continuously growing teeth, rabbits need the right diet and enrichment to prevent overgrown or misaligned incisors and strong molars grind through fibrous food to support your bunny's active chewing and gnawing. But without proper dental care, your rabbit's teeth can slowly grow out of control, causing great pain and putting their health at risk. Read on to learn everything you need to know about properly caring for your rabbit's specialized teeth. We'll cover nutrition, chew toys, checking their teeth, and what to do if problems arise. Let's hop to it and get your rabbit grinning from floppy ear to floppy ear!

How to keep rabbit teeth healthy

Keeping your rabbit's teeth healthy is an important part of rabbit care. Rabbits have continuously growing teeth that need proper wear to prevent overgrowth and other dental issues. There are several things you can do to maintain good dental health for your bunny.

First, feed your rabbit a diet high in hay and grass. The fibrous nature of hay and grass provides the abrasion needed to wear down constantly growing teeth. Make sure your rabbit has unlimited access to fresh timothy, orchard grass, or oat hay. You should also provide access to fresh greens like romaine lettuce, kale, parsley, cilantro, and spinach.

Second, provide safe chew toys. Rabbits love to chew and gnaw, so be sure to provide an assortment of chew toys. Untreated wood, cardboard tubes, sea grass mats, and natural loofah chews are good options. Rotate the toys to keep your rabbit interested and be sure to discard any toys once they are chewed down.

Third, schedule annual vet exams for a thorough teeth check. Your vet can identify any potential problems early, before they become serious. Regular exams also allow the vet to trim overgrown teeth if needed. Proper home care can minimize the need for trimming.

Following these tips will go a long way towards protecting your rabbit's dental health and preventing serious tooth problems. Pay close attention for any signs of discomfort or difficulty chewing and see your vet promptly if issues arise. With proper care, your bunny can enjoy healthy teeth for many years.

Healthy diet

Feeding your rabbit a healthy diet is the best way to maintain good dental health. The ideal diet for rabbits consists primarily of grass hay, supplemented with leafy greens and a small amount of pellets. Here are some guidelines for keeping your bunny's teeth in great shape through proper nutrition:

  • Provide unlimited grass hay at all times. Grass hays like timothy, orchard, oat, or brome provide the abrasion needed to wear down constantly growing teeth. Hay should comprise at least 75% of the adult rabbit's diet.

  • Rotate greens daily. Leafy greens like romaine, kale, parsley, cilantro, and spinach contain vitamins and minerals. Greens should make up about 20% of the diet. Introduce new veggies slowly.

  • Limit pellets to 1/8 cup per 5 lbs body weight. Use pellets sparingly to prevent obesity which can lead to dental issues. Select a high-fiber rabbit pellet.

  • Avoid sugary treats like fruit and carrots. Sugary foods increase risk for tooth decay and digestion issues. Healthy treats include hay cubes, twigs, and herb sprigs.

  • Ensure constant access to clean, fresh water to aid digestion.

  • Allow access to grass when possible for added abrasion. Make sure grass has not been treated with chemicals.

Following these diet guidelines will provide the coarse, fibrous foods rabbits need to keep teeth trimmed down naturally through daily chewing and eating. Monitor intake and adjust as needed to maintain optimal weight for your bunny. A healthy diet is the foundation of good dental health.

Chew toys for rabbits

In addition to a healthy diet, providing safe chew toys helps maintain your rabbit's dental health. Rabbits have a natural urge to chew and gnaw regularly. Chew toys give them an appropriate outlet for this instinctive behavior while also providing enrichment. Here are some chew toy ideas to protect your bunny's teeth:

  • Untreated wood blocks, like untreated apple tree branches, aspen, or willow. Avoid treated wood.

  • Cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, egg cartons. These provide fiber and cardboard is safely digestible.

  • Sea grass mats offer different textures to chew and dig through.

  • Natural loofah chews create abrasion for constantly growing teeth.

  • Twigs and sticks from safe, pesticide-free trees. Try fruit trees, birch, or poplar twigs.

  • Large palm mats with woven palm leaves provide a woven surface to gnaw on.

  • Paper bags filled with hay allow chewing, shredding, and eating hay.

Rotate chew toys frequently to keep your rabbit engaged and interested. Watch for any loose pieces that may present a choking risk as toys are destroyed. Remove and replace toys as needed. Providing an assortment of chew toys encourages natural chewing behavior that contributes to ongoing dental health. Make sure your bunny always has access to safe items for vigorous chewing activity.

Do rabbits need their teeth trimmed?

Rabbits do not generally need their teeth trimmed when provided with proper dental care. A healthy diet and chew toys are usually sufficient to wear teeth down naturally. However, misaligned teeth or dental disease may occasionally require a veterinarian to manually trim overgrown teeth. Here’s what to know:

  • With a balanced diet and enrichment, most rabbits keep their own teeth trim. Chewing hay and other fibrous foods continually grinds teeth down.

  • Malocclusions, or misaligned teeth, may require periodic manual trimming by a rabbit-savvy vet. This corrects overgrowth and alignment issues.

  • In cases of dental disease, damaged or malformed teeth may need trimming to restore normal function. This is typically done while the rabbit is under anesthesia.

  • The front incisors and back molars are examined during annual checkups. The vet determines if trimming is needed to maintain proper length and alignment.

  • Trimming by a qualified exotics vet is done carefully to avoid sensitive tissues. Proper technique avoids tooth fractures.

  • Sedation is normally used for back molar trimming which is more involved due to the placement and structure of these rear teeth.

While trimming is sometimes necessary, a rabbit's natural chewing behavior should keep most teeth adequately worn down. Diet, enrichment, and annual exams are the primary ways to maintain good dental health and minimize trimming needs. Seek veterinary advice if you notice signs of tooth overgrowth or misalignment.

Checking for dental health at home

You can do periodic checks of your rabbit's teeth at home to identify any potential problems between vet exams. Here are some steps to assess your bunny's dental health:

Step 1: Check around the rabbit's cheeks

Gently press around the outside of your rabbit's cheeks and jawline where the roots of the molars are located. Does your rabbit react as if it is painful? Any tenderness or swelling in this area may indicate an issue with the back molars. Contact your vet promptly if you notice discomfort, abscesses, or asymmetry in the cheek/jaw region which requires further examination.

Step 2: Check the front teeth

Lift your rabbit's lips to expose the two upper and two lower front incisor teeth. Examine the length and alignment. Upper incisors should slightly overlap the lower when the mouth is closed. Look for teeth that seem overgrown, broken, or misaligned from normal position. Also note any reddening of the gums, loose teeth, growths on the gums, or other abnormalities.

Step 3: Check for signs of trouble with the back teeth

The back molars are more difficult to see but dental issues can be identified through some possible symptoms:

  • Drooling

  • Cheek swelling

  • Weight loss from reduced or selective eating

  • Smaller than normal poops

  • Reduced chewing activity

  • Head shaking or tilting to favor one side

Schedule a vet visit if any of these signs are present as they may indicate problems with the back molars. The vet can do a thorough oral exam under sedation if needed. Contact them with any questions or concerns.

Annual exam for preventative care

Along with periodic home checks, an annual veterinary exam is an important part of your rabbit’s preventative dental care. Here’s what to expect from this yearly dental health check:

  • The vet will conduct a thorough oral exam, checking incisors, premolar, and molar teeth. This is done visually and by palpation of the jawline.

  • The teeth will be checked for proper alignment and normal wear at expected bevel angles. Overgrowth, fracture lines, pits/spurs, and other problems may be noted.

  • Your vet may scale away any tartar buildup above or below the gumline.

  • If misaligned or overgrown, the back molars may be trimmed. This is typically done under sedation.

  • For aggressive tooth issues, extraction may be recommended though this is a last resort.

  • Diagnostic x-rays of the mouth may be taken to evaluate root health and impacted molars.

  • The vet will discuss any noted dental issues and advise on management, extraction, or treatments.

  • Home dental care will be reviewed and adjusted as needed based on your rabbit’s unique needs.

Bring your concerns, discuss appetite and eating, and ask any questions you have about your rabbit’s dental health during this important annual visit. Ongoing preventative dental care from your vet helps avoid progression of small problems into serious health issues.

The anatomy of rabbit teeth

Rabbits have a specialized dentition adapted for a diet of fibrous grasses and plants. Here's an overview of normal rabbit teeth anatomy:

  • Rabbits have 28 permanent teeth. This includes 6 upper and 6 lower incisors along with 6 upper and 6 lower premolars/molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw.

  • The incisors are the large front teeth used for biting off plant material. The uppers slightly overlap the lowers. Constant gnawing wears incisors down.

  • Premolars and molars have ridges for grinding plant matter. These teeth elogate continuously throughout life.

  • Enamel covers the incisors and premolars. Molars have enamel only on the outer surface with softer dentin exposed on chewing surfaces to create wear.

  • The soft tissue pulp in each tooth produces new dentine and enamel to continuously grow the teeth.

  • Roots of the incisors and cheek teeth extend well into the bones of the skull and upper and lower jaws.

  • Powerful jaw muscles allow rabbits to generate substantial chewing forces. This is needed to grind down constantly regenerating teeth.

  • Misalignment, trauma, or uneven wear of the teeth can disrupt normal growth. This requires veterinary correction.

The rabbit's specialized dental anatomy allows teeth to renew while also meeting the grinding and chewing demands of a fibrous, plant-based diet. Proper alignment and controlled wear are needed to maintain this delicate balance.

Teeth grinding in rabbits

You may notice your rabbit rhythmically moving its jaws up and down without eating. This tooth grinding behavior serves several purposes related to your bunny's dental health. Reasons rabbits grind their teeth include:

  • Filing down overgrown teeth

If teeth are overgrown or misaligned, grinding may help slowly wear them to a better length or shape. The rabbit may grind persistently trying to smooth its teeth.

  • Pain or discomfort

Tooth grinding could indicate dental pain or GI gas buildup causing discomfort. It warrants a veterinary exam to check for underlying issues.

  • Communication

Grinding teeth is thought to sometimes communicate contentment, similar to a cat's purr. It may signal security and trust.

  • Taste testing

Rabbits explore objects through taste and scent. Light gnawing or grinding serves to sample flavors and smells in the environment.

  • Seeking attention

The sound of tooth grinding can draw the attention of owners or other rabbits. Some rabbits learn to use this sound to get notice or treats.

Tooth grinding is normal rabbit behavior but excessive grinding may be a sign of poor dental health or discomfort. See your exotic vet if it becomes excessive or is paired with other symptoms. With healthy teeth, grinding is just part of daily rabbit life.

Common rabbit tooth health problems

Several common dental issues are seen in pet rabbits. Being aware of these problems allows you to watch for early signs your rabbit may be experiencing tooth pain or difficulty eating. Common rabbit dental problems include:

Spurs – Sharp points that develop on the inside or outside of the cheek teeth. These irritate the tongue and cheeks.

Misalignments – Teeth may overgrow or meet improperly due to crowding or malposition. This causes uneven wear.

Molar or premolar elongation – Back teeth may overgrow if not worn down through proper chewing activity. Points and sharp edges develop.

Molar root overgrowth- The roots anchoring the molars can elongate into surrounding bone, causing pain.

Fractures – Teeth may crack or split from trauma or chewing very hard objects. The pulp within is then exposed.

Periodontal disease – Bacteria under the gumline damages the tissues and jaw bone supporting the tooth roots.

Abscesses – Infection forms in the jaw bone around the tooth roots, seen as swelling along the jawline.

Oral malformations – Developmental abnormalities involving the structure or number of teeth.

With prompt treatment, most dental issues can be corrected before they seriously impact your rabbit's health and quality of life. Annual exams help detect problems early. Be proactive about your rabbit’s oral health.

Overgrown rabbit teeth (malocclusions)

Overgrown teeth are a common dental issue in rabbits. Proper tooth wear through daily chewing is essential to counterbalance continuously growing teeth. When this system is disrupted, teeth can become elongated, misaligned, and sharp. Here's an overview of rabbit tooth overgrowth:


Overgrown teeth cause several problems:

  • Pain while chewing and eating

  • Mouth irritation and ulcers

  • Trouble grasping and chewing food

  • Weight loss and malnutrition

  • Tooth root abscesses

  • Misaligned bite and jaw issues

Severe overgrowth can lead to reduced food intake and gastrointestinal problems. Ongoing malocclusions also damage jaw bone structure. Seek prompt veterinary treatment.


A variety of factors can contribute to rabbit tooth overgrowth:

  • Lack of hay and other dental-wearing foods in diet

  • Missing or underdeveloped opposing teeth

  • Misaligned jaw placement

  • Root elongation shifting teeth out of place

  • Congenital anomalies of teeth or jaw

  • Accumulation of dental tartar

  • Fractures altering tooth structure

  • Age-related bone density changes loosening teeth

Genetics play a role with certain breeds more prone to malocclusions. Ongoing exams help diagnose underlying causes for overgrown teeth.


Watch for these signs of possible tooth overgrowth:

  • Drooling

  • Irregular chewing motions

  • Selectively eating softer foods

  • Facial swelling or jaw tenderness

  • Discharge from mouth

  • Weight loss

  • Poor fecal production

  • Dropped food when chewing

Schedule a veterinary visit promptly at the earliest signs of trouble.


Several treatment options exist for overgrown rabbit teeth:

  • Regular trimming by veterinarian

Sedation is typically needed to trim back overgrown portions, reshaping teeth. Wire or nail trimmers designed for animal use are used. More significant trims require followup.

  • Tooth extraction

In severe cases, problematic teeth may need to be pulled if other options fail. This is done under anesthesia.

  • Pain management

Medications treat pain and inflammation to keep rabbits eating.Anti-inflammatories and opioids may be prescribed.

  • Antibiotics

If infection is present, antibiotic treatment will be needed. Abscessed teeth often involve antibiotic therapy.

  • Diet change

Increasing hay intake and limiting pellets encourages chewing to wear teeth naturally. Grass mats also help.

Keeping trims current and addressing underlying causes, often with dietary adjustments, gives the best outlook for overgrown rabbit teeth. Monitor chewing function closely until any issues resolve.

How to Care For Your Rabbit's Teeth

In summary, good rabbit dental care involves:

  • Unlimited grass hay diet

  • Rotate leafy greens and limit pellets

  • Chew toys changed regularly

  • Annual veterinary oral exams

  • Learning to check your rabbit's teeth at home

  • Addressing any signs of tooth trouble promptly

  • Considering extraction if malocclusions persist

With proper nutrition, enrichment, and veterinary oversight, your rabbit can enjoy excellent lifelong dental health and comfort. Committing to your rabbit's oral health prevents much suffering and adds years of healthy life.


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