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
Lexile

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. She 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. Then 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. 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. The research is on 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 (157)
  • MaggieM-3
    9/15/2014 - 09:21 p.m.

    Bai Yun is a panda at the San diego zoo and chipped her lower tooth. Teeth are very important to the health of giant pandas. They spend up to twelve hours a day chewing, breaking apart and eating bamboo, which requires a lot of breaking down. Bai Yun got her chip repaired on Wednsday, September 10. Giant Pandas are endangered and it is believed that only 1,600 live in the wild. San Diego Zoo is partnered with the Chinese Academy of Science, and is researching Giant Pandas. I think it is incredible people were able to fix such a large animals tooth and be successful. I am however wondering how did the zoo keepers and veterinarians find out that Bai Yun had a chipped tooth.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    9/15/2014 - 09:48 p.m.

    That panda has been chewing and chewing on a bamboo stick so it took 12 hours a day to chew on a bamboo and the panda's lower tooth has to be fixed by the veterinarians. On wednesday the dentist needs to fix the tooth so it can be a healthy tooth again.

  • KevinK-4
    9/15/2014 - 11:55 p.m.

    I think it was a good call from the zoo to fix it damaged tooth because it would drive the panda crazy and it might get out of control. I think the dentist was a nominal human one not a veterinarian one. She would say to any patient that was not sure about her work she would say I worked on lot of people teeth and I even worked on a panda. I did not know that there are only about 1,160 pandas left in the wild. I think pandas are a cool animal and I am glad they fixed that pandas tooth.

  • alexisb-Koc
    9/16/2014 - 12:38 a.m.

    I'm a huge animal lover so this story definitely pertains to me. It's good to know that the zoo cared enough to make sure the animal got the treatment it needed. Recently zoos have been getting bad reps, and I myself am not very fond of them. But this one, I have tons of respect for. I'm glad the panda's tooth has been fixed and she's going to be alright.

  • RS2000RED
    9/16/2014 - 08:40 a.m.

    I think they had to clean her teeth so they didn't get infected because, pandas don't normally clean their teeth and if someone has to work on them they need to be clean.

  • SA2001orange
    9/16/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    Veterinarians had to clean Bai Yun's chipped tooth because having a chipped tooth can be hard on any person and any animal. Also, Bai Yun spends 12 hours a day just eating bamboo. If she didn't eat all that bamboo, she won't get enough nutrition. That's why Bai Yun's tooth had to be cleaned.

  • R.A.Micheal
    9/16/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    They cleaned her teeth because it is important for them to stay healthy to chew on the tough and chewy bamboo that they need to eat for nutrients.

    • hailey432
      9/16/2014 - 12:07 p.m.

      i agree. it could get infected and could harm the animal badly. it could make it stop eating and cause starvation, and then lead to death. its to bad that a panda could be in the wild with a infection or bad tooth, because not all vetanarians can get to them. they are endangered.

  • megan12403
    9/16/2014 - 11:06 a.m.

    That's so sad poor little panda. Also the pandas teeth had to be clean because they were going to fix its chipped tooth. If the panda had something on its teeth it could have got in the pandas tooth or gum and caused infection.

  • megan12403
    9/16/2014 - 11:07 a.m.

    That's so sad poor little panda. Also the pandas teeth had to be clean because they were going to fix its chipped tooth. If the panda had something on its teeth it could have got in the pandas tooth or gum and caused infection.

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