They say a dog is man’s best friend, but gorillas may play a close second. At least that may be so for Dr. Sean McLaren, who recently traveled to Boston to help two gorillas in need.
McLaren, a pediatric dentist and assistant professor with Eastman Institute for Oral Health, was asked by Dr. Eric Baitchman, director of Veterinary Services at Zoo New England, to extract abscessed teeth from Kiki, 31, and Gigi, 40, both western lowland gorillas who reside at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Kiki needed tooth #30 removed, and Gigi had broken tooth #22 over the summer, but had since developed an abscess.
McLaren already had a special spot in his heart for Gigi, because he previously removed an abscessed tooth from her four years ago.
“It was such a great experience back then, I never thought I would have a chance to do it again,” he said. “I was thrilled at the opportunity to help out.”
Gorilla’s teeth are very similar to human teeth, he explained, but they are much bigger.
“They went well,” said McLaren about the procedures, who donated his time to perform the extractions. “It takes a long time, because their bone is much more ense than human bone, and their teeth are larger. Kiki and Gigi both recovered beautifully with no complications at all.”
Gorillas are very accustomed and comfortable with routine in their daily lives, McLaren said. “So it’s important to arrange the dental procedure in a way that won’t impact their routine. There are a lot of logistics behind the scenes that need to occur before and after the procedure.”