Humans Aren’t the Only Ones Who Need Dental Work

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Shark dental work: bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as dentistry for sharks. Or dentistry for any animals, for that matter. Well, Yahoo News in Australia recently reported that the second instance of dental work performed on an endangered Grey Nurse Shark was successfully completed.

The shark had survived for months with two fishing hooks lodged in her jaw, although veterinarian Dr. Rob Jones stated that she, like other wild sharks with dental problems, had such a sore mouth that she couldn’t eat and was consequently dangerously skinny. The procedure required a team of 12 sea life experts, with divers who wore thick wetsuits and chain-mail gloves for protection, as well as a team of veterinarians who performed the dental surgery with bolt cutters and pliers. The procedure is described by the Australian news source as both “a delicate underwater recovery mission” and “daring dentistry.”

While certainly impressive, many readers might be wondering why the scientists and caretakers went to such great lengths to fix the teeth of a wild shark — and do it underwater, no less — and even more readers might be wondering why the story is considered newsworthy. But there is a valuable lesson to take away from this story, if you look close enough: regardless of species classification, if an animal is born with teeth and meant to use them, then losing those teeth can be extremely dangerous.

Like the rescued Grey Nurse Shark, people who suffer from poor oral hygiene can have such dental pain that they need to limit their intake of certain foods, and may even start to lose weight and experience other health issues because of a lack of nutrition. There are a great deal of health risks for people who have lost teeth or haven’t visited their local dentist regularly. Preventative measures, like flossing and replacing toothbrushes every three months, is a good way to ensure proper oral hygiene.

Sometimes it seems impossible to maintain good oral hygiene, but that’s no reason to ignore your teeth completely until something really bad happens and you need emergency dental surgery. Even if you think that it’s too late for preventative measures, it has never been easier to find a dentist who can offer cosmetic dental procedures to restore or replace your teeth, and then help you maintain good oral health afterward. Because if there’s one thing we can learn from dental surgery performed on sharks, it’s that our teeth might just be the most important part of our bodies. Read more like this.

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