A tooth root abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms near the root of your rabbit's tooth and can damage the surrounding bone. This type of abscess does not tend to drain on its own, and the bacteria causing the infection can spread to your rabbit's nasal passages and ear canals. Abscesses tend to develop in inflamed areas that enable bacteria to easily access the gum tissue, so they can occur when dental decay is present or when the soft tissue in your rabbit's mouth is punctured by overgrown teeth. Your rabbit's teeth grow constantly and can get overgrown if they do not have unlimited access to high-fibre roughage, such as hay, to keep their teeth short enough to allow them to maintain good oral health. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for tooth root abscesses in rabbits:
Symptoms of a tooth root abscess include facial swelling, bleeding gums, loose teeth and respiratory irritation. Your rabbit will also likely lose their appetite and experience weight loss and lethargy. Abscesses are painful, and this may present as your rabbit withdrawing from social interaction, adopting a hunched posture or becoming irritated when you try to pick them up or stroke them.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will diagnose a tooth root abscess by taking details of your rabbit's symptoms and conducting an oral exam. They will also swab the affected area to confirm infection and identify the strain of bacteria present. In some cases, oral X-rays will be taken to check for damage to the jawbone.
A tooth root abscess will require antibiotics to resolve the bacterial infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to promote healing. A small abscess will be drained using needle aspiration, but larger abscesses will have to be surgically removed, and it's common for the affected tooth to be extracted due to extensive damage or to allow the vet access to fully clear the abscess. Rabbits have curved tooth roots, so tooth extraction can be time-consuming, and your rabbit will need general anaesthesia for this procedure. Your vet will also give you advice on maintaining your rabbit's oral health and feeding your rabbit a diet that prevents their teeth from becoming overgrown. A follow-up appointment will be required to check treatment has been successful, and there's no sign of infection remaining.
If your rabbit has any of the symptoms listed above or if you have any concerns about their oral health, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary suffering. For more information, reach out to a vet near you.