CHESTERFIELD, Va. — The unpleasant act of having to get a root canal is not exclusive to humans.
The Metro Richmond Zoo successfully performed the dental procedure on their 22-year-old chimpanzee "Kip" back in December after they noticed some swelling on the right side of his face.
The zoo’s vet team examined Kip’s mouth, and discovered his right, upper canine tooth was discolored — concluding that he needed a root canal.
They called Dr. Bruce Overton, a local endodontist, to complete the procedure. The zoo said Overton specializes in root canals for people, but also has the proper equipment and experience to work on animal canine teeth.
Overton has volunteered his services at the zoo before, performing root canals on a lion, snow leopard and two bears throughout the years — so working inside a chimpanzee's mouth was probably a little less nerve-wracking.
On the afternoon of the procedure, the zoo said Kip was sedated and transported to the zoo’s animal hospital where the root canal took place.
Zoo veterinarians Dr. Cheryl Antonucci and Dr. Kylie Cameron, and Emma Enea, the zoo’s vet tech, administered anesthesia and monitored Kip’s vitals during the procedure.
Overton and his assistant, Theresa Faw, conducted the root canal on Kip. A small opening was drilled into the tooth, infected pulp was removed, and the interior was cleaned, filled and then sealed — much like any other root canal.
After the procedure was completed, Kip was transported back to the ape habitat in the zoo. He recovered from anesthesia in a private, comfortable area and then returned to the chimpanzee troop.
The zoo said his tooth is no longer causing him pain, and he is enjoying life with the group.