By Nina Woodford, Office of the Campus Veterinarian
For bears that have an active “chewing” lifestyle, dental work is often required to keep their teeth in good working order. Especially after 15 years.
Routine physical exams this spring revealed that our two mature adult male bears had broken canine teeth. So on July 20, both John and Frank were taken to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine for dental procedures.
While the bears were anesthetized, a board-certified veterinary dentist conducted a root canal on the broken canines.
Grizzlies each have four canine teeth, all large and sharp at the front of their mouth.
The “root canal” is a cavity inside each tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues. If this tissue is exposed by a tooth fracture, the cavity can become infected and become a source of pain.
Root canal treatment involves drilling small holes into the tooth to clean and sterilize the cavity. Then, the holes are filled to prevent accumulation of bacteria while keeping the tooth intact. Root canal treatment is comfortable for the bears and saves their teeth, which would have to be extracted otherwise.
In addition to the root canal treatment, both bears also received a thorough dental cleaning and a complete physical exam.