How do you perform root canal treatment on a 225lbs Sumatran tiger? Very carefully by the looks of things.
US vet Dr Larry Baker worked alongside a human endodontist, three veterinarians, a veterinary technician, a human dentist, two dental assistants and two veterinary students, to repair a broken lower canine tooth of Besar, a 16-year-old Sumatran tiger at Bloomington Zoo in Illinois.
The impressive array of medical and dental professionals turned out to ‘drill and fill’ the tiger’s root canal on Friday.
And there was a tense moment when the tiger’s survival seemed threatened.
When dealing with an animal capable of killing with its powerful jaws, it is important to make sure that it sleeps deeply while someone is working inside its mouth.
Endodontist Dr Keith Evans admitted he was a bit concerned when the tiger seemed to be stirring near the procedure’s conclusion.
The anaesthetic was administered to Besar, along with oxygen, throughout the procedure through a tube inserted in his trachea.
But when a veterinary student noticed that the beast’s heart rate had dropped to 60 beats per minute and his breathing appeared to dramatically slow down, the anaesthetic was scarily shut off.
About two minutes later, endodnotist Dr Evans felt the tiger’s tongue move around, and began working furiously to complete filling the root canal with cement.
Besar’s broken lower left canine tooth was first noticed a year ago.
After vet dentist Dr Baker was contacted late last year to work on Besar, he ordered a new portable X-ray machine, which is especially lightweight and safely held for close range work.
He also bought a long set of files, which proved helpful for cleaning out the three-inch-long roots of tiger’s teeth.