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Dentist finds sea turtle shell fixable with denture adhesive

MARATHON, Fla. – A dentist used denture repair adhesive to help mend an endangered green sea turtle’s fractured shell in the Florida Keys.

On Thursday, Fred Troxel examined Elena, a 40-pound adolescent reptile he had treated the day before at the Turtle Hospital by using the acrylic resin to bond two metal orthopedic plates across a 10-inch split on the turtle’s shell.

The hospital has been caring for Elena for a month, since the creature was recovered from a Key West beach. Officials believe the turtle washed up after it was hit by a boat.

For most of that time, Elena’s condition was listed as critical.

Earlier this week the turtle began eating on its own and hospital officials began to focus on repairing the shell.

Troxel said the hospital staff “had problems with getting things to adhere to the shell, so as a dentist they were asking me to help them figure out what might be the materials that can do it. Maybe I had something in my toolbox.”

He came up with the denture repair adhesive, which thus far is holding.

“Modern dentistry is about bonding restorative materials to teeth, which are organic substances,” he said. “In this case we are bonding something that’s a mechanical device to an organic substance, which is the turtle shell.”


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