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In my world, Dinohumania, dinosaurs and humans coexist. There are ways humans benefit from and utilize dinosaurs, mainly for industrial/laboral activities and heavy tasks. Humans try to maintain a peaceful relationship with dinosaurs; and help them if needed. In that matter, there can be cases the dinosaurs need medical treatment; and in some cases it is a dental problem that requires human intervention.

However, when it comes to a predator species like T-Rex (Tyrannosaurus rex); things get 'roary'. It is even very challenging to tame large herbivore dinos (Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Edmontosaurus) to a certain extent; but predator dinos are much more challenging and there are fatal outcomes in some cases. Although, there are still ways humans utilize big predators like T-Rex and Allosaurus; and humans also use their bite force in certain industrial areas. Adult sauropods are usually left them be because some unfortunate humans were crushed underfoot by some giant fellows like Brachiosaurus in the past.

Keeping dinosaurs healthy is important, especially the ones in the industrial workforce. Large predators like T-Rex are very susceptible to dental problems because of their diet and their industrial tasks. T-Rexes can normally replace their teeth when broken but they also get tooth infections that can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Question:

  • How to do dental surgery on an infected adult T-Rex tooth?

I would appreciate if it can include details like how to stabilize and sedate a T-Rex safely, how to keep the mouth open, and if any special dental tools needed.

T-Rex details:

  • Adults can go up to 40 feet in length and 12 feet in height
  • Adults can weigh between 11,000 and 15,500 pounds (5,000 and 7,000 kilograms)
  • Adult teeth can reach up to 12" in length (including the root). The visible portion or crown for adults typically measures between 4" and 6"
  • 50 to 60 thick, conical, and serrated teeth that were replaced after being broken

enter image description here
The Tyrannosaurus rex known as Stan, excavated in South Dakota in 1992, is one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons in the world. Greg Latza / AP Images
"a maximum bite force of almost 12,800 pounds, about the equivalent of an adult T. rex's body weight (or 13 Steinway Model D concert grand pianos) slamming down on its prey. That would make T. rex the hardest-biting terrestrial animal ever known." - smithsonianmag.com

World details:

  • Advanced industrial age technology. Compared to early 1900's or so in real world
  • There is certain knowledge on dinosaur veterinary medicine and paleo-dentistry; although it is not an established field
  • There are ways and taming methods to restrain large predators like T-rex, Giganotosaurus, Spinosaurus but full-grown adults are usually avoided if they don't comply or if they are too unpredictable; although adults are still deemed useful in many cases
  • Humans love dinosaurs

A related article I've found:
T-rex fossil reveals dinosaur from 68 million years ago likely had a terrible toothache! - studyfinds.org

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  • $\begingroup$ One question per post, please. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 1 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ermanen Sub-questions are questions. If you need that many sub-questions than your post is too broad. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Aug 1 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ I've updated the question. $\endgroup$
    – ermanen
    Aug 1 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Do they call it Dinohumania in universe? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Aug 1 at 14:48

2 Answers 2

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There is, in fact, real world information about the sedation of large predators for medical procedures. From Preliminary Findings with Butorphanol Sedation in Cetaceans,

Over the last two years at SeaWorld Orlando, butorphanol has been used as a sedative in 35 procedures of ten cetaceans, including seven bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), one false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens), and two killer whales (Orca orcinus)... Other procedures in which butorphanol sedation was administered included gastric endoscopy, oral surgery/cryotherapy, and tooth extraction.

(emphasis mine)

Adult Orcas weigh about 3-6 tonnes, putting them very conveniently in the same weight category as your Rexes. The butorphanol was administered intramuscularly, which is the sort of thing you could do with an industral-sized dart gun. Obviously, dinos aren't cetaceans, but butorphanol is used on birds, which gives a good precedent for its effectiveness here.

I don't doubt that there are other sedatives and analgesics out there that would also work pretty well (though probably might want to avoid paralytics, because making a ventilator big enough for a Rex might be a challenge) but this is the first thing I found. Consider it an example that you can just adapt existing real-world techniques. You aren't dealing with aliens with radically different biochemistry, after all.

So, break out the dart-cannon, wait for your dino to settle down a bit, then you can administer something more if needs be and get out a big jack to open up their jaws and get to work on the problematic bits. I don't have anything interesting to contribute in the matter of dental surgery, so I won't simply repeat stuff that anyone else could find with a bit of searching. I doubt it would be dramatically different from surgery on any other large predator done today.


editted to add

It doesn't add anything more to this answer (other than noting the use of meperidine and midazolam, as well as butorphanol), but I though I'd include a quote from Sedation at Sea of Entangled North Atlantic Right Whales (Eubalaena glacialis) to Enhance Disentanglement:

A pole syringe was developed for use on right whale #1102 because existing ballistic drug delivery systems for terrestrial species had inadequate volume for such large animals. A cantilevered pole system, originally designed for measuring blubber thickness acoustically was adapted to be practical in a small inflatable boat

Obviously, an existing dino-based industrial society will have big enough syringes, and won't necessarily need to get up close and stabby.

We conclude that butorphanol and midazolam delivered ballistically in appropriate dosages and combinations may have merit in future refractory free swimming entangled right whale cases until other entanglement solutions are developed.

So there you go. The appropriate term of art is "ballistic drug delivery".

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the quick answer with details. I never thought about orca dental procedures! I've asked the dental tools also because I wasn't sure if the tools used for human dental procedures are enough, or if we need bigger or more specialized tools. For example, are there special tools for orca dental procedures? T-rex teeth grow bigger and I believe they have stronger internal dental tissues than many animals. $\endgroup$
    – ermanen
    Aug 1 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ermanen the world is full of industrial tools designed for use on hard materials, and scaling some up to be of dino-appropriate size seems pretty straightforward, and if this is a common issue to deal with then outsized dental drills and grinders will be available off-the-shelf. If the teeth regrow, then making a specialized extractor would probably be the only thing necessary. $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ One big difference is you actually have to try to save orca teeth, for a T-rex any problematic tooth can simply be removed, also teeth are replaced so fast most dental problems never have a chance to develop. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 1 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Butorphanol seems to have been patented in the 1970s, not sure that counts as 1900s. $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AngryMuppet its just an example. Its just a synthetic opioid, and back in the 1900s it would have been straightforward to get the good stuff. Meperidine is related, though slightly older ('38). Benzodiazepines have no older analog though, but as they're not required themselves that isn't a big deal. Plus, if nothing else, if you can bring dinosaurs forward by a few hundred million years, you can surely take a some chemicals back a few decades ;-) $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 18:38
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Aside from having to sedate the t-rex surgery should be fairly easy and extremely rare. T-rex like all dinosaurs are constantly growing new teeth and losing old ones, so there is very few dental problems that will not solves themselves. Basically all dental issues can be solved by simply removing the tooth in question.

to be clear teeth are not just replaced after being lost or broken, they are constantly being replaces in a never ending cycle. a T-rex tooth only spends about a year in a T-rex's head.

Normally you would not do anything for a broken tooth, there is no reason not to just let it fall out on its own.

the only real problem you will ever have is impacted teeth which is extremally rare but does happen in crocodiles and requires cutting open the gum and breaking or cutting up the teeth in question and removing them. you can see it being done to a crocodile in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umBroXYIiks

the most common thing your dentists are going to do are cleanings which will just involve a hose with decent water pressure.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I expected it to be not too common also. I mentioned T-Rexes can replace their teeth as well and there is no established dino vet or dental field. $\endgroup$
    – ermanen
    Aug 1 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ There is however vet and dental work on crocodilians which have the same dental physiology. there are papers on crocodilian dental work in zoos going back to the 1920's $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 1 at 16:21

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