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When A Tiger Has Tooth Problems You Need A Dentist Who's Earned Their Stripes

Melbourne Zoo's Sumatran tiger, Hutan, has shown off his impressive incisors during his latest dental check-up. 

X-rays of Hutan's mouth reveal the large and incredibly sharp teeth the tigers use to grasp their prey.

Hutan -- 1.5 metres long and 127 kilograms -- was taken to the zoo's hospital after a check-up revealed possible problems, Melbourne Zoo veterinarian Dr Kate Bodley said.

Image: Melbourne Zoo

"For this procedure we used a specialised dental X-ray machine to get a really close look at each individual tooth," she said.

"This allows us to assess the health of the bone and search for any sign of an abscess."

The X-ray turned out to be necessary for Hutan, who had a few issues with is pearly whites.

"The keepers identified a potential problem affecting his incisors, so the veterinary team and Dr Clarke have addressed the issue during a series of specialist dental procedures," she said.

Image: Melbourne Zoo

Unfortunately for Hutan, he needed two root canals and three tooth extractions.

Sumatran tigers are native to the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, but there are less than 400 left in the wild.

Rainforest destruction for palm oil is the species' biggest threat, the Zoo said.