What would you do if your teeth never stopped growing?
A chat with the Easter Bunny about bunny teeth
By Leah Kinney, RDH, MS
Have you ever wondered how animals take care of their teeth? As spring begins to take root, I sat down to chat with the Easter Bunny to learn how she keeps her teeth healthy throughout the year. Did you know that her teeth NEVER stop growing? If she’s not careful, they can grow too long and hurt her jaw! Check out my interview with Ms. Bunny to learn more.
Thanks for talking to me today, Ms. Bunny!
Happy to be here, thanks for having me!
Before we get started, are you really THE very famous Easter Bunny?
Yes! We in Bunnyland all hope to hold the position of Easter Bunny at least once in our lives. This year, it’s my turn!
That’s so cool! I am a dental hygienist and I love learning about teeth, but I don’t know a lot about bunny teeth. How many teeth do you have?
I have 28 teeth total, 6 front teeth and 22 back teeth. My 4 large incisor teeth are the ones you can see when I smile. I also have 2 tiny incisor teeth – also called peg teeth – located right behind my uppers. My front teeth have a sharp edge; I use them for biting into and cutting up food.
In the back of my mouth, I have 6 upper and 5 lower chewing teeth on each side, for a total of 22 molar-type teeth. I use these teeth for grinding food into smaller pieces so that I can digest it.
I have 28 teeth too! Adult humans typically have 32, but I had my 4 wisdom teeth taken out when I was younger because there wasn’t room for them to come in. What else do you use your teeth for?
Well, my favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to chew things. I chew things not only to eat food, but also to express my emotions – like when I’m frustrated, happy or in pain. My teeth are important tools too! They help me clean and remodel my house and groom my fur and the fur of my family members. Because they are so important to me, I have to keep them in good shape. My teeth are open-rooted, which means that they continue to grow for my entire lifetime. I keep them trim by continuously chewing.
Wow, that’s so cool that your teeth never stop growing! How much do they grow each year?
Bunny teeth grow 3-5 inches every year! If I don’t chew lots of things to keep my teeth short, they can grow too long and cause problems in my mouth because the teeth don’t come together right.When bunnies only eat only soft foods, their teeth get too long and needed to be trimmed by a special bunny tooth doctor.
It sounds like the most important thing you do for your teeth is chew things, both on your front teeth and your back ones. What are you favorite things to chew?
One of the best things for me to eat is hay, because it helps my digestive system and requires a lot of chewing which keeps my teeth short. Plus, there are many varieties of hay to choose from, so I don’t get bored.
I also love chewing on tree branches! Especially orange, lemon, apple, willow, maple, ash or pine tree branches! I also like to eat weeds, grasses, clover, wildflowers and vegetable plants. When the weather turns cold, I love chewing and eating twigs, buds, bark, conifer needles, and any green plants I can find.
What happens to your teeth if you don’t care for them?
Luckily, I haven’t had many tooth problems, but by far the most common problem that happens is tooth overgrowth, like my friend I mentioned earlier. I have also heard about bunnies that had split or broken teeth, sharp teeth that hurt their gums and cheeks, and also tooth infections.
If humans have bunnies as pets, how should they help take care of their bunny’s teeth?
In the wild, bunnies and rabbits chew all day. Make sure your bunny has lots to chew, all day long. It’s also very important to feel around on your bunny’s face and mouth and look for anything that seems unusual. If you see or feel anything unusual, call your vet right away. For more details, take a look at this Oral Health Home Care Plan from the House Rabbit Society.
It’s also very important for humans to remember that in the wild, bunnies are often eaten by other animals. For this reason, we have learned to not show signs that we are sick or hurt – even when we are – because that makes us more vulnerable to prey. We need humans to be diligent in checking for any signs of sickness and to take us in to the vet regularly.
That is very important information for the human world; thank you! Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Any last words for the human world, Miss Bunny?
I mean, I’d make a veggie joke, but no one would carrot all.
Leah Kinney is a dental hygienist and the Director of Clinical Business Development at Delta Dental of Minnesota. In her current role, Leah works to educate and empower Minnesotans to take control of their oral hygiene through proper homecare and regular check-ups with their dentist. Leah received her dental hygiene and undergraduate degrees from Argosy University in Eagan, MN and also holds a master’s degree in legal studies from Kaplan University.