A Tall Order


Every dentist has some patients that are more challenging than others. Maybe they’re ticklish, or nervous. Maybe they salivate too much, or too little. Maybe they never seem to be able to get comfortable in the dentist’s chair.

But very few dentists have to deal with patients who are 16 feet tall with a 20-inch tongue.

Blair Drummond Safari Park is a 120-acre zoo and safari park located near Stirling, Scotland that opened to the public in 1970. One of its many attractions, Kelly, a 14-year-old giraffe, was having trouble chewing her food. Given that giraffes normally can strip leaves off of a tree branch, and chew them up, it became apparent that she would need special care. For this, they brought in Dr. Ian Rodger, a veterinary surgeon.


First a team of 12 Blair Drummond vets and staff gave Kelly a general anaesthetic to allow them to have a look inside her mouth to check her teeth.

Using a ladder and bales of straw to prop up Kelly’s long neck, Dr. Rodger was able to look in her mouth. There he found food being caught in a gap between Kelly’s teeth.

He said, “I did expect to find some changes in the mouth. I actually found a wee bit less than what I was expecting, but that said, there could still be significant sources of pain and discomfort.

“Food was becoming trapped in the gap between the teeth. The right name for that is a diastema and there were two on the lower left jaw … I picked and cleaned and flushed them out and explored the depth of them.”

A decision was also made to take X-rays of Kelly’s mouth. This way Rodgers and his team could look more closely at whether further drilling work would be required to widen the gap to avoid food continuing to be trapped there.

Dr. Rodger said, “Although the changes don’t look enormous to my eye–I’ve certainly seen worse changes than that in horses’ mouths many times–gum inflammation or gum recession is a noted source of pain in an animal’s mouth, so that may well be the primary source of the problem. We don’t undertake general anaesthesia in a giraffe lightly but this is a problem that’s been working away for a wee while now and we felt we had no choice but to explore the mouth, and hopefully based on that and based on the X-ray, we can make some decisions as to how to put a treatment programme in place.”


Kelly was constantly monitored by the team throughout the 30-minute procedure.

Ailsa West, Team Leader for Giraffes at the safari park, said, “I and the other giraffe keepers have all been a little bit nervous about this prodecure, especially when you see the drug starting to take effect, but it’s so good to see her back up on her feet so quickly.”

Staff at the safari park monitored Kelly for a few days, before she was slowly mixed back together with the other giraffes.

A tall order to be sure, but a success for Dr. Rodgers, the team at Blair Drummond, and of course a relieved Kelly.

Dr. Sigal JacobsonUveneer is the invention of cosmetic dentist, Dr. Sigal Jacobson. Though only being launched since February of 2014, Dr. Jacobson’s patented
design is already being touted as “groundbreaking” and “essential” by dentists worldwide. A native of Australia, Dr. Jacobson also runs her own practice  Jacobson Dental Group of Melbourne. To learn more about what Uveneer can do for you and your patients, visit our FacebookTwitter, and YouTube pages!