Cosmetic Dentistry For A Chimp

In Knoxville Tennessee, Alan Williams from WVLT-TV reports on the first trip to the dentist for an outgoing eight-year old.

The eight-year old is Lou, a chimpanzee, who enjoys his bananas, carrots and corn. When zookeepers discovered that something was wrong with the ape's teeth, veterinarians recommended, of all things, cosmetic dental surgery.

Dentist David Campbell was called in. "It looked to me like they were drinking too many Mountain Dews," Campbell laughs, "but they didn't have any Mountain Dews in their diet."

Lou was put under anesthesia, and the dentist went to work. Campbell started taking down the broken outer surface of the teeth, and bonded the teeth with the same filling material he uses on the front teeth of his human patients.

The unique procedure worked, and the before and after pictures show Lou's pearly white teeth restored. When asked if there were braces in Lou's future, Campbell responded with a definitive no.

Dental procedures on apes as well as rare zoo and wild animals are becoming more common. The tools and procedures are essentially the same for animals as for humans, however sometimes the equipment must be custom made to accommodate the animal's size.

An animal's teeth can be crucial to survival in the wild. Animals use their teeth to eat, communicate, defend themselves and mark their social status. When a tooth is damaged, the animal can be at a severe disadvantage.

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