Measuring Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Tooth Growth and Eruption by Fluorescence Markers and Bur Marks

J Vet Dent. 2016 Mar;33(1):39-46. doi: 10.1177/0898756416640956.


Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and rodents possess continuously growing teeth, and dental problems are a major health issue in these species. Knowledge of tooth growth characteristics is required to adequately treat dental problems and advise owners concerning diets. Most research was performed using bur marks and measuring eruption and wear manually. However, this method cannot be applied to teeth less rostral than the first premolar; therefore, for evaluation of molars, other methods are needed. We evaluated the use of fluorochromes xylenol orange and calcein green to measure growth rates of rabbit teeth and compared this method to results obtained by manually measuring the distance between a bur mark and the gingival margin of the same tooth (eruption) and by measuring the distance between the bur mark and the apex of the same tooth on computed tomography scans (growth). Apical fluorochrome measurements correlated well with eruption and growth rates obtained with bur marks, whereas measurements coronal to the pulp cavity did not. Growth rates were approximately 1.9 mm/wk for maxillary and 2.2 mm/wk for mandibular incisors. Growth rates of premolars were 2.14 ± 0.28 mm/wk in rabbits on a grass/rice hulls/sand pelleted diet and 0.93 ± 0.18 mm/wk in rabbits on a hay diet. Growth of molars could only be assessed using the measurement in dentin on the wall of the pulp cavity, which does not account for the real growth. However, being similar to this measurement in premolars, one could hypothesize similar growth in molars as in premolars. We conclude that the application of fluorochrome staining can be used to measure tooth growth in teeth that are not accessible for bur marks or in animals that are too small to assess tooth eruption or growth by bur marks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dentistry / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / veterinary*
  • Rabbits
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / veterinary*
  • Tooth / growth & development*
  • Tooth Eruption*


  • Fluorescent Dyes