| Updated at: 1929 PST, Friday, November 26, 2010|
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Dentists in southern India have performed root canal surgery on a giant scale to rid a 27-year-old elephant of chronic tusk ache, officials said Friday.
A three-member team of dentists helped by a veterinary surgeon carried out the two-and-a-half-hour operation on the male pachyderm which developed a cavity in one of its tusks, they said.
The operation took place in early November after the owner of the pet elephant brought the animal for an examination of the infection that had damaged the tusk.
"We decided to use the traditional root canal process as a remedy," dentist Sunil Kumar told in state capital Thiruvananthapuram. He said the elephant was the perfect patient as dentists drilled and pumped resin into the huge cavity in the chipped tusk. "We needed extra-large instruments and equipment and large quantity of resin to fill the crack," Kumar said.
"For humans, we use only four grams of resin to fill a cavity but we had to use 188 grams (0.41 pounds)) of resin to fill the crack in the elephant's tusk," the dentist said.
Kumar said the tusk was 50 centimeters (1.65 feet) long while the cavity was six centimeters deep. "During the surgery, the tusker was not tranquilized and he was very cooperative and obeyed his handler," the doctor added.
Elephants play an important ceremonial in Kerala where they are used in religious parades, marriages and social festivities.