A bear of a dental appointment: Pt. Defiance polar bear loses three teeth

Boris the polar bear was resting comfortably Friday in his den at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium following a three-hour dentist appointment. The 29-year-old bear had three teeth pulled. One was abscessed, one was fractured. The other was just old and decayed, according to a news release from the zoo.

Dr. Loïc Legendre, a veterinary dental specialist, performed the oral surgery with assistance from zoo veterinarians Dr. Karen Wolf, Dr. Allison Case, and a team of support staff. Just like a human dental patient, he will need to eat soft food for a few days until his mouth heals.

Boris had undergone root canals in the past. At his age, decayed teeth are common, the dentist said. While Boris was anesthetized, veterinarians also conducted a thorough physical exam which included taking radiographs and blood samples.

At 29, Boris is showing signs of age, but he's generally in good health, Wolf said. He is one of the oldest polar bears in a North American zoos. Polar bears live an average of 15 to 18 years in the wild, according to Polar Bears International. They are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Boris came to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in 2002 following his rescue from a traveling circus. He is one of three polar bears in the zoo's Arctic Tundra exhibit.