How do you fix a pandas tooth? Very carefully
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The San Diego Zoo's giant female panda has been known to chew on bamboo up to 12 hours a day, so when Bai Yun chipped a lower tooth, veterinarians had to fix it.
The 23-year-old panda went to the dentist Wednesday, got a shot to make her numb and got the chip repaired, a cleaning and X-rays.
The Los Angeles Times reports a dental composite was used to fill the damaged tooth.
Bamboo is chewy but to get enough nutrition out of it, a panda has to break it apart and chew a lot. So having healthy teeth is important, especially since it's the panda's favorite food.
In addition, a bad tooth can be hard on any animal but giant pandas are particularly vulnerable to damaged or worn down teeth. To get enough nutrition, giant pandas need to eat a lot of bamboo and they spend a lot of time chewing and breaking it apart.
Bai Yun has been known to spend up to 12 hours a day dining on bamboo.
Only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. A group called San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs.
The San Diego Zoos giant pandas are on a research loan from the Peoples Republic of China, according to the zoo website.
As part of this long-term program, the zoo is collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.
Critical thinking challenge: Bai Yun had a chipped tooth. Why did veterinarians clean her teeth?