It’s not just humans that have dental problems; even animals need to visit the dentist on a regular basis and staff at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, had a big job on their hands when polar bear Boris had to be put to sleep for his annual check-up. The 27-year-old bear underwent a four hour examination that also involved removing a growth from his eyelid and trimming is huge claws.
While the animal was under anaesthetic, dental experts examined his teeth and found that one of his canines was infected, so they decided to perform a root canal treatment. A root canal is required if decay has eaten through to the centre of the tooth and compromised the structure; the nerves are removed and the inner chamber is packed with filler material to keep the tooth strong and functional. Infected teeth can be very painful and are sometimes difficult to treat.
After the mammoth four-hour operation, Boris was brought round from the anaesthetic and was given the all clear by the vet. The enormous polar bear was rescued from a Mexican circus a decade ago and was brought to Washington State, where he quickly became a favourite of staff and visitors alike.
Keeper Cindy Roberts was relieved that Boris was still in good health after the root canal and surgery, saying ‘All of us worry about him and love him. We spend more time with the animals than we do with our own families.’