How do you fix a pandas tooth? Very carefully Meg Sutherland Smith, associate director of veterinary services at the San Diego Zoo, uses a light to seal a dental composite during a restorative dental procedure on giant panda Bai Yun at the San Diego Zoo (AP photos)
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?

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COMMENTS (18)
  • sl2000soccer
    9/16/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    Bai Yun had a chipped tooth... so the veterinarians cleaned her teeth. They cleaned her teeth because they wanted to repair the chipped tooth as well as get rid of any bamboo that was left in her mouth. Because Pandas spend so much of their time eating bamboo, and they never clean their teeth, I think they would have lots of extra bamboo left over in their mouths.

  • JS2001basketball
    9/16/2014 - 08:47 a.m.

    They cleaned her teeth because teeth have to be clean before repairing then or filling also so her doesn't rot because of eating too much bamboo

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    9/16/2014 - 10:05 a.m.

    Panda's are one of the most recognizable animals on the planet, yet, despite that, i had no idea that the maintinence on their teeth would be such an undertaking.

  • Jared2105
    9/16/2014 - 10:57 a.m.

    The reason why the veterinarians cleaned the pandas tooth was because it is important for a panda to have good teeth. Because they chew on the bamboo for so long that they get high in the nutrition from the bamboo sticks and it's important that they stay healthy. Especially since it's the panda favorite food the bamboo sticks also keep their teeth healthy. I think that it is a good thing that the [people from the San Diego Zoo is teaming up with the experts from the Chinese Academy of Science to help learn more about pandas and try to save them.

  • TF00Music
    9/16/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    Because they didn't want any bacteria affecting the tooth while they worked on it. They wouldn't want to get the pandas mouth infected. The panda needs to have a healthy mouth so that they can eat bamboo and get the nutrition's they need.

  • ws2001wrex
    9/16/2014 - 01:07 p.m.

    Bai Yun had a chipped tooth. Veterinarians needed to fix it because with out the tooth the animal could not eat his bamboo. And if he couldn't eat his bamboo he would be in serious trouble. So they fixed and cleaned her other teeth including that one so that she can eat.

  • IM2000food
    9/16/2014 - 01:10 p.m.

    veterinarians had to clean her teeth because she uses it a lot when eating bamboo also its also important to have a healthy tooth when eating food. Because a bad tooth could rotten and break again.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    9/16/2014 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think it is great that tey fixed her tooth, but how did they know it was chipped. I can believe there is only 1,600 pandas still in existance! what is happening to them all!!

  • KimB-Bri
    9/17/2014 - 03:12 p.m.

    i thought that this article was very intresting because i didnt know that pandas were still an endangerd species and i also didnt know that pandas spend most of there time chewing on bamboo thats crazy they chew on it for 12 hours! talk about slow eater man.

  • BHernandez-Bri
    9/17/2014 - 03:30 p.m.

    i thought that this article was very interesting. there were many things that i didn't know about these pandas. i really never new the pandas had there own dentist. i also never have thought the pandas needed to get there teeth repaired so they can be able to eat there bamboo.

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