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A Puerto Rican hippo, a North Carolina veterinarian and two Florida women

May 01, 2012

Photo Source: North Carolina Zoo

Believe it or not, from time to time I like to imitate Robert Ripley's Believe It Or Not and blog about unusual dental stories. Below is another installment of weird dental dramas.

Doctors haven’t made house calls in years, but veterinarians sometimes do – especially when the “patient” is as mobile as a house.

North Carolina veterinarian Dr. Mike Loomis paid a call earlier this spring on an old friend, Tomy, a 3,000-pound hippopotamus residing at the Parque de las Ciencias Luis A. Ferré zoo and museum in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

Apparently the two have hit it off because Dr. Loomis has been treating the 39-year-old hippo semi-regularly since 1991.

Dr. Loomis is the chief veterinarian of the North Carolina Zoo and is widely recognized as one of the world’s top exotic animal veterinarians. Tomy is the Puerto Rican’s zoo and museums' most popular animal. Tomy was suffering from malocclusion, where his lower teeth weren’t fitting properly and were interfering with his eating.

You don’t have to be a veterinarian to know that hippos like to eat, but you should probably be a vet if you need to anesthetize one.  Hippos require lots of anesthesia – something akin to anesthetizing a sold-out crowd at Wrigley Field, although merely watching baseball usually has the same effect on me.

Over the years Dr. Loomis and the museum staff developed a technique to partially anesthetize Tomy and trim his teeth while he is in a sitting position. It is unknown whether or not they piped in music or provided six-month-old magazines standard in many dentists’ offices.

Once Tomy was adequately sedated and I'm guessing "adequate" is important in this instance, Dr. Loomis used a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade and trimmed Tomy’s lower teeth. Today Tomy is happy again and eating like a starving model at a tofu buffet.  It was unknown whether Tomy charged the good doctor headlong after the bill was presented.

And speaking of outlandish charges…

A Bradenton, Florida woman was charged in March with possession of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence after Bradenton police learned she was hiding crack cocaine - in her dentures.

This believe-it-or-not episode began when Theresa DeMarco, 56, was stopped by a Bradenton deputy for a loud muffler. When talking with DeMarco and her passenger, Mary E. Winchell, 36, the deputy noted in his report that the pair “appeared extremely nervous.”

After issuing a written warning for the muffler, the deputy searched the car and found a hydromorphone pill in Winchell’s seat. The deputy then arrested Winchell and that’s when the gums started flapping, so to speak.

Winchell told the deputy that DeMarco was hiding more pills in her dentures. When the deputy confronted DeMarco, she removed the pills from her dentures and promptly swallowed them.

DeMarco was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for evaluation before being booked into Manatee County Jail with Winchell. Both women were charged with possession of a controlled substance and DeMarco was also charged with tampering with evidence. Police levied the tampering charge because DeMarco swallowed the pills, although if I had been the arresting officer I would have considered charging the dentures as an accessory; I’m just saying.

Regardless, let’s tip our hat to the Bradenton police for following the lead of McGruff the crime dog and helping to take a bite out of crime.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. And remember: Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.  If there is something you’d like us to blog about, email:

Find me on Twitter at Twitter@ToothTeller

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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