Even 800-pound zoo animals need emergency dental surgery sometimes! Oscar Jonsey (O.J.), a lowland gorilla from the San Francisco Zoo, was experiencing tooth pain this past Monday when 2 local…

Animals Need Dental Care

Animals Need Dental Care Too

Even 800-pound zoo animals need emergency dental surgery sometimes! Oscar Jonsey (O.J.), a lowland gorilla from the San Francisco Zoo, was experiencing tooth pain this past Monday when 2 local dentists came to his rescue.

A Different Species of Dentistry

Dentist Dan Mairani and endodontist Steve Holifield, the dentists who performed the surgery, had no prior experience with animals, according to an article in the Huffington Post. Despite that, they decided to go forward with the procedure. They diagnosed O.J. with an abscessed canine tooth and though they had worked on humans with this problem before, it was very different this time. Just 3 hours later they had successfully treated the abscess and saved the tooth. Lora Lamarca, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Zoo, stated, “We use quite a few human doctor specialists with animals, especially the great apes because of their close connection to humans. They love to do it.” Read the full Huffington Post article here. Maybe those 2 dentists should consider a whole new species of clientele after Monday’s success!

Exotic Dental Training

Some animals, like gorillas, have a similar mouth and teeth structure as humans, and Louisville University College of Dentistry in Kentucky uses this to its advantage. They offer a special course, Exotic Animal Dentistry, to all senior dental and dental hygiene students. In this class, the students are able to practice what they have learned on real, live animals from the Louisville Zoo. With their professor and veterinarians readily available in case of emergency, they get to experience something that is unique to this university. The collaboration between the Louisville Zoo and the university’s School of Dentistry does not occur anywhere else in the U.S.

Your Pet’s Teeth

The need for dental care does not stop at zoo animals. About 85% of all dogs and cats have some periodontal concerns, says Dr. Jan Bellows in The Dental Care Series. It all starts when dogs and cats go for long periods of time without having their teeth brushed. It begins with gingivitis then slowly progresses to deep holes in your pet’s teeth and bones, which can cause great amounts of pain and typically require extraction.

There are many ways to prevent periodontal disease from occurring:

  • Brush your pet’s teeth on a weekly basis
  • Visit the veterinarian regularly
  • Give your pet hard foods that will help remove plaque from its teeth
  • Always be aware of what is going on inside your pet’s mouth

Surprisingly enough, animals suffer through some of the same dental diseases and pains as humans do, though most of their owners never know. This also means that oral problems can be just as serious and life threatening, requiring medical treatment immediately. Pay close attention to your pet’s mouth so that you can spot an oncoming problem and help fix it before it becomes a major problem. Whether they are family pets or zoo animals, they still require dental attention to keep them healthy and happy.

2 Comments
  1. People often neglect their pets and the amount of time that is needed to dedicate to them to ensure their quality of life. An animal is a living creature just like yourself that has needs. It cannot always take care of itself, so you need to be there for them, and that, like Sterling mentioned, includes taking care of its dental hygiene.

  2. It’s true that animals need dental care too. After all, they also have teeth like us, right? Before getting a pet for yourself, you must know that you have the responsibility to take care of your animal companion. And that includes taking care of it’s dental hygiene.

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