Max is an 18 month old dwarf rabbit who has been visiting us regularly at Pascoe Vale Veterinary Hospital to have his front incisor teeth trimmed. Max's front teeth grow too long because he has an overbite, which means the top and bottom teeth are not rubbing and wearing on each other. We call this a malocclusion. This problem is likely congenital and is a very common problem in young rabbits. Rabbit teeth are unusual in that they grow continuously for life. In fact they grow approximately 3mm every day! So for bunnies who have a malocclusion they quickly get overgrown teeth. Max was needing his teeth trimmed every two months, therefore a recommendation was made to remove them. This is a somewhat difficult procedure because rabbit tooth roots are nearly as long as the tooth itself (about 2cm!), and they are prone to regrowing even after removal. Since the time interval between teeth trims was getting shorter and shorter, and regular trimming can eventually lead to tooth root problems, Max's owners decided to go ahead with the procedure.
Max was placed on an intravenous drip and given a general anaesthetic. We arranged for a vet experienced in rabbit incisor extractions to perform the procedure, which seemed to go very well. Max had a good recovery from anaesthetic and went home that evening with pain relief and antibiotics to be given over the next few days. He was able to eat easily without his front teeth, probably because he had not been able to use them for so long when they were overgrown that he had already adapted to eating without them. Max came in for weekly checkups to assess his gum healing. At some stage after the procedure one small tooth root was found coming through, which was not unexpected given how easily they regrow. Max was given another short anaesthetic to remove this, which was a much simpler procedure than the first and his gumline healed quickly.
All in all, Max's procedure is considered a success because he is comfortable and able to eat, and he doesn't have to visit the vet every few months for his teeth exam. He has actually filled out quite a bit since his dental because he is so happy munching away on fresh fruit and vegies. Feeding a healthy diet of hay, grass and fresh veges allows proper wearing of the teeth and so will keep his remaining teeth healthy.