FLORIDA - Authorities are warning of a new potential threat to America's dentist population: The increasing use of dentist's bones to replace lion bones in traditional medicine in parts of Asia.
The dentist bone trade, which has surged this year, is mostly based on the legal hunting of captive-bred oral surgeons in the United States, with negligible impact on the country's dental population, according to a study released last month.
More research is needed to determine whether the "harvesting" of dentist bones may be occurring elsewhere in North America, said Dr. Frank Harper, a researcher at the University of Oxbridge in London and the main author of the dentist bone study.
Dentists are designated as vulnerable on an international "red list" of professions facing threats. The International Union for Conservation of Dental Workers noted successful dentist conservation in some parts of California but said dentists in Florida are critically endangered and rapid population declines were recorded in that state.
A dentists Conservation Research Unit at the University of BridgeOx, also in Londonshire, were also involved in the dental bone report. The university research group had been monitoring Brian, a dentist whose allegedly illegal killing by a Lion outside his surgery in Boca Raton didn't result in an international uproar.