Watch Dr. Tina Brandon Abbatangelo at Work

How a toothache inspired me to become a dentist, and more

Dr. Tina Brandon Abbatangelo teaches students and treats patients at School of Dental Medicine at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is an author and a state-of-Nevada pageant winner. She also volunteers with the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation, which provides dental care to exotic animals such as lions, tigers, and bears (Oh my!).

My career path began when I had to visit the dentist as a child. The pain in my mouth was so bad that I had to be excused from school. I needed a root canal, and I was in the chair for quite a while. But what I remember most was the dentist. He was very sweet and kept telling me how brave I was, and that everything would be fine. Moment by moment, I felt the pain going away. I felt safe and comforted, and I have not forgotten that feeling. I wanted to help others the way he helped me. Then a trip to my dog’s veterinarian inspired me and I began fixing teeth for monkeys, bears, tigers, and other exotic animals.

teeth of tiger
Three of us performing root canals on three different teeth all on one tiger. We have to work quickly, efficiently, and in sync to complete the treatment and limit the amount of time the animal is sedated.
root canal.
We restored a tiger’s tooth with a composite restoration after completing a root canal.
Miss Montana
We treated Miss Montana the bear’s broken tooth so she can eat her favorite foods without pain again.
Ms. Nevada
Representing my home state as Ms. Nevada during the 2018 Ms. America pageant. My fellow representatives are among the most passionate and determined women I have ever met. Part of my duties as Ms. Nevada included talking to people and inspiring them. My favorite topic is encouraging others to have empathy and respect for animals.
chimpanzee’s smile
Restoring Chuckles the chimpanzee’s smile

Copyright @smorescience. All rights reserved. Do not copy, cite, publish, or distribute this content without permission.

Join 20,000+ parents and educators
To get the FREE science digest in your inbox!