Quirky News

  • 19 November 2012, 11:25

Dentist treats polar bear with sore tooth

Arktos /Rex

A 12-strong team of dentists, vets, and dental nurses had to be called in - when a 75-stone polar bear got a toothache.

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire had noticed the usually playful Arktos seemed to be feeling a bit sorry for himself.

As broken or infected teeth are a major problem for polar bears in the wild, he had been trained to open his huge mouth to show keepers his 42 razor sharp gnashers.

So, when the five-year-old bear's check-up revealed a potential problem, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's team of veterinarians was drafted in to carry out a three hour operation.

When experts got an anaesthetised Arktos into the equivalent of a dentist's chair - a specially reinforced table made from scaffolding poles and planks - they discovered he needed root canal work.

One of his teeth had become damaged at the tip and rotted through, so it needed drilling out, cleaning and then packing with dental cement.

Douglas Richardson, animal collection anager at the Highland Wildlife Park, said: "We train our polar bears and other large animals to take part in regular health checks, this means that we can spot issues like this before they become a problem and give our animals the best possible care available.

"Arktos really is a lucky bear and we were delighted to be able to save his tooth; in the wild the infection would have tracked through his system, causing him a great deal of pain and discomfort and, over the longer term, it could eventually kill him."

"Although due to his size an operation like this is never straightforward, the dental work carried out is actually very similar to a root canal that we humans would have - although obviously on a much larger scale."