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They have remedy for fish breath

By Andrew Ryan
Globe Staff / February 5, 2009
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Thirteen-year-old Chuck's breath may not be exactly minty fresh, but he is a little more pleasant to be around because of daily toothbrushing.

"The toothbrush helps control any fish breath they may get," said Erin Clark, a senior trainer at the New England Aquarium who brushed the harbor seal's teeth yesterday in a demonstration for National Children's Dental Health Month.

Chuck, who weighs 180 pounds and is 5 feet 6 inches long, gets his teeth brushed every day. An aquarium spokesman said it is routine for every seal to get its teeth brushed.

"People aren't the only ones who need to take care of their teeth," Clark said.

The toothbrushing takes two or three minutes. The main idea is to try to prevent any plaque buildup or gingivitis.

The toothpaste, designed for dogs and cats, has the flavor of malt balls.

The brushing technique is very similar to brushing your own teeth, Clark said.

Trainers slowly got Chuck used to the idea. They started with a finger and worked up to a regular human toothbrush.

"It's definitely something he's comfortable with now, but that is because we have taken the time to get him comfortable," she said.

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