We love hearing about do-gooders who are dedicated to improving the world. One dentist in particular we had to blog about — a South African vet dentist by the name of Dr. Gerhard Steenkamp.
Talk about risking one’s life. As part of his job, Dr. Steenkamp travels the world healing animals suffering from some oral pain. Some of these animals are vicious predators — meaning if an incident should occur, it could possibly maim the dentist. But it doesn’t faze Dr. Steenkamp, who takes it all in as part of his daily routine, whether if it is a lion with a toothache, or an elephant requiring a root canal.
Dr. Steenkamp doesn’t just operate on the big ferocious carnivores like lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). He works with the small ones too, like hedgehogs and bats. The dentist performs an average of 500 surgeries a year across countries like China, Egypt, the UAE, and parts of Africa. After 15 years in his line of work, nothing fazes Dr. Steenkamp — not even working on the carnivores. He’s avoided injury for the most part, though he still admits the larger animals like hippos and elephants can pose a problem.
“I’ve had elephants wake up on me in the middle of a surgery, and that can be because they are upset,” Dr. Steenkamp reported to the DailyMail. “I’ve been fortunate that often these animals are anaesthetised, so I’m not usually the first person to come into contact with them when they are in pain and wide awake. This is when they are most capable of injuring people. We have had some difficult situations as some of these animals are very huge, so you need to keep your distance.”
The most common ailments the dentist has come across in his experiences are tooth fractures, infections, and abscesses. Thanks to his training as a dentist and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Steenkamp is able to perform root canals, tooth extractions, scaling and polishing of the animal’s teeth.
Dr. Steenkamp admits his work has been most gratifying, and he takes great pleasure in seeing the animals wake up, renewed and free of pain.
How admirable, Dr. Steenkamp! Though we too wouldn’t want to be in a confined space with a moody hippo, especially if he woke up in the middle of surgery!
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and current accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants. Check out his website for more information.