Elephant Gets Root Canal

Dentists in southern India performed root canal surgery on a giant scale to rid a 27-year-old elephant of chronic tusk ache, officials said.

A three-member team of dentists helped by a veterinary surgeon carried out the two-and-a-half-hour operation on the male pachyderm, which developed a cavity in one of its tusks, they said.

The operation took place in early November after the owner of the pet elephant brought the animal for an examination of the infection that had damaged the tusk.

“We decided to use the traditional root canal process as a remedy,” dentist Sunil Kumar said.

He said the elephant was the perfect patient as dentists drilled and pumped resin into the huge cavity in the chipped tusk.

“We needed extra-large instruments and equipment and large quantity of resin to fill the crack,” Kumar said.

“For humans, we use only 4 g of resin to fill a cavity but we had to use 188 g of resin to fill the crack in the elephant’s tusk,” the dentist said.

Kumar said the tusk was 50 cm long while the cavity was 6 cm deep.

“During the surgery, the tusker was not tranquilized and he was very cooperative and obeyed his handler,” the doctor said.

Elephants play an important ceremonial in Kerala where they are used in religious parades, marriages and social festivities.