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Text by Dr Yeoh Boon Nie
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
We are extremely grateful to the Veterinary Dentist Dr. Cedric Tutt (Cape Animal Dentistry Services), Dr. Serena Oh (Wildlife Asia Veterinary Services), Dr. Reza Tarmizi (Danau Girang Field Centre), and Dr. Nabila Sarkawi (Sabah Wildlife Department) for their kind assistance in the dental treatment provided to 8 sun bears from 10 to 12 November 2022. Together with our dedicated bear keepers, we are proud as a strong veterinary team for this operation. Each of us plays our role in anesthesia, dental surgery, dental radiography, recording and recovery monitoring.
This marathon of dental treatment was no doubt exhausting, but it is all worthwhile seeing the benefited bears recovering well and devouring good food as the chronic dental pain was treated. Each procedure took an average of 1 to 3 hours including intraoral radiography, dental charting, dental extraction, and root canal treatment if indicated. Sun bears that are aged more than 10 years old often have bad dentition including fractures and worn teeth with pulp exposure, which causes chronic pain and potential infection. A thorough examination with intraoral radiography is essential to access the tooth root condition. Root canal treatment is indicated to salvage the broken tooth and therefore maintain the dentition integrity. Teeth especially canine teeth are very important for sun bears in defense and food prehension.
This collaboration is significant, and we are thankful to the Hasanah Foundation for its continuous contribution to our Sun Bear Welfare Project including veterinary care. We will continue our effort to provide the best care to our captive Bornean sun bears.