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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Dental malocclusion – is monthly burr cruel?

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    • Amy123
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      Hi – thank you for reading this and any experience you can share. We have 2 dwarf Netherlands, 5 months old, playful and happy generally. One of them started losing weight and it turns out his teeth are misaligned- his right molars are out by a fraction, but the result is his teeth can’t grind down as they miss, including his incisors. We’ve had his teeth burred twice under general anaesthetic but the vet advised the teeth are growing very fast (he was losing weight before we took him last time) and has referred us to a specialist in Edinburgh. We have a few weeks to wait and it is keeping me awake in the meantime! My dilemma is that I don’t think we can keep putting him under for burring month after month for the rest of his life. I’d like to get the teeth extracted instead- the dentist said he could get the incisors out, but we’d still need to get some molars out and hinted it could be a ‘sad conversation’. Does anyone have any experience of this? How long could we keep getting the monthly burr with anaesthesia (ethically) if that were the only option? We just love him – he’s so lively – hops up to the cage door when he sees my little girl, climbs on her and plays little games, hiding then jumping out on her and binkying. I hope there is a long, happy future for him ahead!


    • Wick & Fable
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      My Wick (Netherland Dwarf; problems of the flat faces indeed…) needed monthly molar grinding when he was younger. Before he reached 2yo, he had 12 molar grindings already. He is now 5yo and has had a total of 13– so he hasn’t had one in literal years now. Wick does have malocclusion. His “flavor” is his bottom incisors are slightly in front of his top and his bottom jaw sits slightly off-center. Wick’s vet at the time wasn’t equipped to do more formal assessments so whether his molars perfectly match up, I do not know the exact details (though I suspect they probably don’t all).

      Eventually… Wick kind of grew out of needing the grindings. I think his body stopping its growth and him increasing his hay appetite led to a nice point now where he can maintain his teeth. All that to say, it may not be monthly for the rest of his life — increasing hay consumption and potentially more growth and “finalizing” his body shape might lead to it being more manageable than currently anticipated.

      In terms of what went on during the year he had 1/mo molar grindings, it was definitely very manageable, but I think it was mainly due to the vet we had at the time. Wick’s 1st vet was a more “old school, low-tech” vet, and her practice was literally just her, an assistant, and a secretary. She had no team. Her anesthesia protocol was simply doing an isolfurance mask to get the rabbit to sleep and then do the procedure in time before the rabbit woke up, essentially (so we would bring in Wick and wait in the lobby for like, 15-20min, then he’d come out). Within 10min of him chilling in the waiting room with us, he’d be back to walking and essentially normal.

      Fast-forward to me moving and us going to a different vet to do Wick’s molar grinding — wow, what a difference. It was a 2 hour ordeal, and Wick was wonky for 5-6 hours afterwards. It was then that I learned about how (for very valid reasons) more established practices with larger clientele and just generally more “eyes” watching (I assume) follow more strict anesthesia measures, which includes sedatives, things during, and reversals after. If we had to do that for Wick’s monthly’s, I would be hesistant.

      … now I’m not saying to find an old-school vet who feels comfortable doing just an isoflurane mask or anything. Again, there’s a reason why anesthesia protocol involves more now, for our pet’s safety generally speaking, but I bring this up to say that even if one day out of a month includes going under anesthesia, there are plenty of other days in that month for such a great time! Honestly, the biggest burden is likely on your wallet and the cost.

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


      • Amy123
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        Thank you for replying! This is really interesting. I did wonder why he had to go under a general anaesthetic rather than having something that just calms him down, but as you say, it is probably about the risks. I’m going to ask the specialist if there is a more low-key way of keeping him calm enough to do the procedure just in case.

        I do agree – he is a very lively, playful character with a great quality of life. Three weeks after the tooth grind, he starts struggling to eat again, but does somehow manage it. One evening feeling a bit groggy per month in order to have a good life is worth it. It’s £145 per time for the tooth grind, far from welcome, but doable. I’ll see the specialist about extraction and see how many teeth it would involve (and if it’s worth waiting and seeing if he grows out of it or needs the burr less frequently), if not I’ll move to a different vet (as my current one is a bit variable in advice and actually tried to delay his last tooth grind by 2 weeks! The head vet apologised for that later on as I had to go bananas on the phone and insist it was done immediately – he’d really have started to starve by then!).

        Thanks, once again, good to have some experience that can help me ask the right questions of the vets.

         


    • LBJ10
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      I agree with Wick. A lot of times, they grow out of it. They stop growing and the teeth settle.


    • DanaNM
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      I know of a few buns who had their incisors removed due to severe malocclusion (the front teeth were just sticking straight out, not even touching each other). The buns did very well after the incisor removal, but it is important to have a vet experienced with rabbit dentals.

      Molar removal is difficult if the teeth are healthy, so is usually only used in extreme cases (it also usually ends up leading to other alignment issues down the road). I had a foster who had some molars removed, but they were rotting and practically fell out on their own.

      I do agree that things may calm down as he grows up a bit, and that talking to some other vets might be good.

      I think the plan to just take it one month at a time is what I would do. You can also talk to your vet about supplementing with critical care in between dentals to keep his weight up. If spurs are the issue, pain management can also help him keep eating in that period when you start to notice symptoms.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Dental malocclusion – is monthly burr cruel?