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Monday, 15 August 2011

More Cheetahs to the Dentist

During CCF's annual cheetah health examinations earlier this year, dental work (e.g., root canals) was recommended for some of the cheetahs within a year. Rosy and Klein were the first to go to the dentist back in May.

Dr. Profitt treating Misty.
Misty's turn came up at the end of July, when we took her to see Dr. Profitt, a human dentist who has been helping us with our cheetah dental procedures for several years. Misty is just over 13 years old, which is quite senior for a cheetah, and thus had some wear and tear on her teeth that needed to be addressed. Most specifically she had three broken canine teeth (the long “eye” teeth) with exposure of the root canals. As any person who has ever had a broken tooth with root exposure knows, this can be a very painful condition. Furthermore, over time bacteria and dirt can get up into the root canal and cause and abscess at the base of the tooth. Misty was treated successfully at Dr Profitt's clinic in Otjiwarongo. She had three root canals performed in under an hour, and now has a healthy mouth and a pretty smile!

Misty's smile (c) Matt Cleverley, 2010.
Tempesta in the dentist's "chair."
Last Monday was Tempesta's turn. Tempesta, and older female cheetah (eight years old in July!) went for treatment of two fractured teeth. She had two fractured canine teeth with root exposure. The root canal treatments were uneventful, and now both of her canine teeth will be fully functional again.
Tempesta as a cub in August 2003.
Unfortunately, due to the normal wear and tear on the teeth caused by aging and eating bones, teeth will sometimes fracture (break), even in wild cheetahs. In the wild, animals don't receive dental care; thus a fractured tooth with root exposure would eventually develop an abscess at the base of the tooth and that tooth would likely fall out over time. Generally these animals are still able to eat, but some very old cheetahs (and other predators) might have trouble catching prey and/or eating if they have many damaged teeth over their lifetime. In the case of CCF's captive cheetahs, we perform dental exams annually and try to save as many teeth as we can!

Gabriella Flacke, DVM, MVSc


  1. i like your channel ^^

  2. Matt's file photo of Misty's smile added a nice humorous touch. How funny! Kudos to Dr. Profitt as well. Thanks for the post.

  3. Interesting website. Keep blogging!

  4. Anonymous11:01 am

    I love Misty's smile...Is she alone in her enclosure???... I am sure she can get a boy's friend with it now!!! even at 13 years old!

  5. Just catching up with the blog. Im going to give your updates a nudge on the forum thread Im on as it is a wealth of information and highlights great work.

    Looking forward to the next instalment.