Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC

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Oshkosh, WI 54904-7713


Occlusion of Rabbits and Rodents


The function of the incisor teeth is to cut grasses in a side-to-side cutting fashion in rabbits.  This is made possible by the positioning of the TMJ.  At rest, a rabbit has their incisors in a chisel-like position and the cheek teeth are actually not in contact. 

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the rabbit allows for lateral excersion of the mandibles.  The rabbit's TMJ has less rostral to caudal motion compared to rodents.  The TMJ of the rabbit will also allow for dorsal ventral motion for chewing larger objects such as pelleted feeds.  Food is masticated (chewed) by the cheek teeth (premolars and molars) one side at a time in a side-to-side fashion.  The cheek teeth are arranged in parallel rows.  Each lower cheek tooth contacts two upper cheek teeth in the proper occlusion.  The lower cheek teeth are narrower (left to right side) than the upper cheek teeth.  This is an ansiognathis occlusion.

The rodent incisor teeth also function to gnaw grassy foods in a vertical (dorso-ventral) motion.  Rodents have fewer cheek teeth than rabbits, and rodents have lower cheek teeth wider than the upper cheek teeth (opposite of the rabbit).  The TMJ of the rodent allows for rostral-caudal and dorsal-ventral motion of the jaws.  At rest, the incisors are retrognathic and not in contact for the rodent. 


Anatomy of Rabbit Teeth