Two stories caught my eye recently and illustrate how much we have to learn from animals. The first relates to baboons in a Devon zoo. Would you ever regard a baboon as a role model? No, I wouldn’t either and yet that’s exactly what the baboons at Paignton zoo are! They were caught flossing on film! They were using broom bristles and hair to remove particles from between their teeth. You can see this classic footage here.
Meanwhile, a recent article in the BDJ reported on a principal dentist in Pembrokeshire, Wales who has animals which live in the grounds of his practice. Dr Mark Boulcott invites patients to meet his animals before having their dental health checks. Also a trained sedationist, Dr Boulcott welcomes nervous patients in particular and has received good feedback from phobic patients.
In its story, the BDJ reports on a patient who was terrified of the dentist and had not been in 18 years. After spending time with the animal team and Dr Boulcott, she overcame her fear, was able to proceed with treatment and take better care of her teeth.
But I must get a mention of braces into this blog! Evidence is also building for the confidence-boosting power of braces. But braces are not just for cosmetic improvements, they can help improve the function of the bite. And this was exactly why a little puppy by the name of Wesley had braces fitted – In America naturally!
His owner, Molly, works in a dental practice which fortunately for her, is owned and run by her father, Jim. When he saw adorable little Wesley struggling to eat, he decided a short course of braces – less than six months! – would help straighten Wesley’s teeth. You can read the full story here: and if you are a dog lover, you are just going to melt at the pictures!
To return to my starting point which was the power of pets, animals bring us comfort. According to a 2018 report, the US-based National Institutes for Health has been carrying out research to study the relative impacts of different animals, from fish to guinea pigs, from dogs to cats on human beings.
Therapy dogs are especially good at being a source of comfort. They are taken into homes and hospitals and can lift the mood of residents or patients. As one researcher pointed out in this article, while human beings have to learn mindfulness, animals are innately attentive, aware and living in the moment!