This is one occasion when the dentist became more afraid than the patient – when dental treatment has to be given to a 28 stone silverback gorilla.
A western lowland gorilla, Pertinax, recently fractured a tooth exposing a nerve that needed root canal surgery. Fearing that the 33 year old gorilla will develop abscess or an infection, the zoo staffs called in Peter Kertesz, an animal dentist, to treat the tooth of the great ape.
The gorilla was then put to sleep before a team of staff helped Peter to start the 40 minute procedure. The damaged nerve tissue was removed by Peter before replacing it with a biocompatible material in order to preserve the tooth. Jo Reynard, member of the Paignton Zoo vet team, said whenever a tooth gets a fracture the living pulp is exposed and can get an infection.
In fact, despite being an herbivore, Gorillas have big large razor type sharp teeth to grind through rough plants and barks. They also possess long canines to protect them against external threats.
During the surgery, Peter was assisted by several vet members and nurses at Paignton Zoo including Monika Mazurkiewicz, a dental nurse. Neil Bemment, curator at Paignton Zoo, said that he is extremely happy that Peter could find some time from his busy schedule to assist Pertinax. He continued, the surgery was a huge success and dentistry is a highly specialist field where proper care need to be taken and more in exotic animals. Pertinax deserved the best and duly got it.
Peter is from London and is a global figure travelling across the world to take care of exotic species. His first success came back in 1978 when he took care of a cat. Peter said, humans or animals, they are all the same and they both need treatments. What varies is their size and location and also, it is all about teamwork.
A full health check was given to Pertinax while he was asleep after the surgery. He returned to his full conscious state back the next day.