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The story beneath those teeth

There were lots of very good guesses for the brainteaser posted at the beginning of the week – no doubt some of you already got it!

The answer is enamel and dentine hypoplasia in a rabbit, in this case due to a chronic malnutrition.

right lateral view

That horizontal segmentation of the enamel and dentine happens when the metabolism of calcium and phosphate (the building blocks of the dental hard tissues, as well as bone) is disrupted. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, but the enamel is fully formed by the time the teeth erupt from the gums. Since this poor guy’s incisors are distorted along their whole length, something must have been going on for a while.


On x-ray, you can see the ridges go all the way down the teeth – into the jaw bone

In this case, we weren’t entirely sure of the cause of death in this rabbit. There were many of the typical signs of starvation, like no fat stores under the skin or around organs and muscle wastage. But there was also food in the intestines, indicating that he had eaten recently (rabbits need to eat fairly continuously to keep their guts moving). It was the unusual appearance of this rabbit’s teeth that was the clincher in this case.


Normal vs. segmental hypoplasia


One thought on “The story beneath those teeth

  1. Pingback: This Week I Found: January 18-31 2014 | Scientia and Veritas

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