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March 23rd, 2016

Hoppin’ Facts About Bunny Teeth

Category: cincinnati dentist

hagen and easter

Easter often brings a combination of gift baskets, dyed Easter eggs, candy…and of course, the Easter Bunny!

Let’s take a quick look at the Easter bunny…and rabbits in general.

So what exactly does the Easter bunny have to do with Easter? It’s said that the tie-in with Easter is based some in myth, in particular, that a bunny is a symbol of both spring renewal and fertility. Springtime coincides with Easter each year, so that is part of where the tradition comes from.

The real source of the Easter – Easter bunny connection may be from German folklore in particular, with Ostara, the German goddess of springtime. It was said that the German’s “Oschter Haws” (or “Easter Hare”) laid a nest of colored eggs as gifts for the kids who were well behaved!

There’s a few other stories about the Easter Bunny and its origins, but let’s take another look at rabbits – and their teeth!

“Carrots are devine… You get a dozen for a dime, It’s maaaa-gic! – Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny, one of the most famous bunnies of all time, once said these words when giving praise to carrots.

But do rabbits really eat carrots?

The answer, is – well, yes! Rabbits are herbivores, so they don’t eat meat. Instead, they eat a combination of grass, clovers, wild flowers and farm crops, including carrots and other root vegetables, at least when they are in the wild.

To chew their food, they have 28 teeth – and, believe it or not – these teeth actually never stop growing. Other members of the rodent family also have this trait, also known as “teeth that are open-rooted” and it actually helps them thrive in the wild.

Why Do Rabbits’ Teeth Keep Growing?

The teeth themselves are somewhat similar to horse teeth – they have 4 large incisors (also known as front teeth) as well as the other, smaller teeth. Many people just think they have 4 large teeth, but the smaller teeth (also called peg teeth) are what help them grind their food into smaller pieces before swallowing.

Being that they are similar to horse teeth, rabbit teeth are designed to break down fibrous veggies. But what happens if a bunny is unable to get enough weed, twigs, grasses or forage in her diet?

If a wild rabbit isn’t able to get that fiber in her diet, she won’t wear down her teeth naturally, meaning the teeth will grow beyond the desirable length. If this happens, the visible section of the tooth will grow higher and meet the other tooth abnormally (instead of where it would properly be worn down). This can lead to abnormal wear for the rabbit, and the teeth can form sharp edges that can be harmful.

Just imagine if your teeth started to shape in a way where they had sharp points – you could imagine the accidental damage your tongue and cheeks could endure!

The same is true for rabbits if this happens, which is part of why they are prone to dental issues. Because rabbits in the wild aren’t always able to get the right kind of diet to wear down the teeth, this can happen more often than you’d think. In some cases, the rabbit’s teeth can become impacted and inflamed, and it can even lead to an infection in the bone.

If a rabbit is a household pet, they are also not always getting the extreme amount of fiber their teeth were designed to break down. In those cases, people can usually take their domesticated rabbits to a vet in order to cut down the teeth on a regular basis.

You Mean Bunny Teeth…Can Be Similar to Ours?

Even if your pet is getting enough fiber to keep their teeth worn down as they would naturally be in the wild, vets recommend taking your bunny in to see the doctor for regular check-ups about twice a year, unless they tell you otherwise.

Just like for us humans, these check-ups can ensure everything in the mouth – even what we can’t see – is as it should be. People may think their bunny is eating normally and isn’t showing signs of pain, but there could be an issue going on, and it’s better to catch it early than have any disease progress. In fact, did you know that rabbits are actually known for being able to hide their pain and illnesses well! Who knew! 

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At Hagen Dental, we are here to partner with you so you can improve your total health. Have questions?We’d love to answer them! Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500 to schedule a visit for you or your family.

Sources/References

  1. http://www.kidsplayandcreate.com/fun-bunnyrabbit-facts-for-kids/
  2. http://www.mybunny.org/info/dental-care/
  3. http://www.thedailymeal.com/7-things-you-never-knew-about-easter-bunny/4714

 

 

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