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Dental health is a key component of the Animal Health Department’s preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami. A variety of issues ranging from gum disease to fractured and broken teeth can lead to critical care issues that may result in serious infection and even death without treatment.
Because animals generally do not complain about dental pain, dental disease is often referred to as “silent suffering” in the animal health field. By the time serious signs such as loss of appetite and weight are evident, the disease or infection process may be quite advanced and can be a debilitating and sometimes fatal issue in animals that do not receive the proper care.
As part of the overall preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami, dental exams are routinely done on a variety of animals during regular general health exams. If and when issues are diagnosed, depending on the severity of the problem, Zoo Miami’s team of veterinarians will either perform the treatment themselves, or, when there are more complicated cases, enlist the assistance of a veterinary dental specialist.
This week, veterinary dentist, Dr. Jamie Berning, DVM, DAVDC, from Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery of Ohio, along with her veterinary technician, Jill A. Bates, RVT, VTS – Dentistry, traveled from their home in Columbus, Ohio to perform a series of procedures on a variety of animals including lions, Orangutans, a pygmy hippo, tapir, meerkat, tree kangaroo, and an otter. Joining them is David Leisten from iM3 Imaging Specialists, who flew in from Vancouver, Washington to provide the special imaging equipment needed. All the visiting veterinary and imaging specialists donate their time. The procedures are being done over several days and range from general consults, cleanings and exams to extractions and root canals.