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Elephant gets tooth extracted to deal with toothache


It’s not just humans that need some help with their dental health; sometimes the largest land mammals can develop tooth problems and need to see the dentist. An Asian dentist at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has had one of his enormous molars removed after developing toothache and a dental infection.

33-year-old Lucha was displaying a reduced appetite that caused her keepers some concern and when they looked inside her mouth they could see that the tooth had become infected. The head veterinarian, Nic Masters, surmised that an extraction would probably be needed and brought in Dr Peter Kertesz to carry out the treatment. He described the surgery, which was similar to that with a human tooth but obviously on a much larger scale. Nic said that, with Lucha fast asleep, the dentist managed to rock the tooth until it broke free, then extracted it completely.

Since the dental operation, Lucha has been recovering well, her appetite is back and she has been gaining weight as well, now that she is not plagued with toothache. Lucha is one of ten Asian elephants at the zoo and they are housed as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.


Asiatic lion has two damaged teeth extracted


Humans aren’t the only species that need to have dental surgery from time to time, and luckily for Asiatic lion Indu the procedure for removing feline teeth is much the same as it is with human teeth. Dr Peter Kertesz normally provides regular dental treatment to humans but was called to Paignton Zoo, in Devon, to help with multiple extractions after Indu’s teeth became damaged.

Dr Kertesz runs a surgery in London but has also extended his treatment to pandas, whales, and gorillas; since dental treatment is relatively similar from mammal to mammal. A spokesman for the zoo stated that Indu appeared to have chipped her teeth while biting onto something hard and one canine and one pre-molar had to be removed. She is said to be recovering well after the surgery. He added that adult Asiatic lions weigh around 20 stone and have up to 30 teeth, including large canines that can be several inches in length.

Referring to the dental treatment, Dr Kertesz said ‘Animals or people, it’s all the same – they need treatment, they get treatment. The scale and the location is what varies. People ask if this is just a bit of fun but it is a very serious business. The health and sometimes the life of a rare creature is in your hands.’

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