NOV 16, 2017 9:56 AM PST

Elephant Receives Root Canal After Cracked Tusk Becomes Infected

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

While dentists may perform their fair share of root canal procedures on human patients, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who has carried out a root canal on a fully-grown African elephant.

Regardless of how uncommon such procedures might be regarding elephants, experts from Columbia Zoo had no choice. They opted to move forward with a root canal on a 50-year-old, five-ton elephant named Tantor, who regrettably suffered from a broken tusk.

Tantor is anesthetized so that officals can perform the root canal procedure safely.

Image Credit: Jorge Chavez via BBC

It allegedly took a team of more than 30 people, including biologists, dental experts, veterinarians, and law enforcement officials to handle the procedure safely. If gathering the ideal team to tackle the challenge wasn't daunting enough, specialized odontological equipment needed to be explicitly developed for operating on Tantor’s tusk.

A crowdfunding campaign is said to have helped alleviate the costs of the dental procedure, which paid for the vast majority of equipment and medicine. Dozens of people contributed more than $8,500 to ensure that Tantor received the life-saving operation.

Related: How to elephants sleep?

Tantor’s backstory is quite a gloomy one. The elephant was purportedly trafficked by drug dealers many years ago, but rescue teams managed to recover the elephant and bring him to the zoo in Barranquilla.

Unfortunately, Tantor suffered from a ruptured tusk near his gum line, and the injury exposed the tusk's internals to the elements. Bacteria later worked its way inside, creating a life-threatening infection that prompted animal experts to operate immediately.

Related: 'Giant Tusker' elephant found dead in Kenya, poaching suspected

Although root canals aren’t renowned for being the most pleasant dental procedure to endure, those who took care of Tantor took every step necessary to guarantee his comfort. He was sedated for several hours, ensuring that he didn’t feel a thing throughout the procedure.

Tantor should make a full recovery, but zoo staff will continue looking over him, just long enough to assure that no other complications arise.

Source: BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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