Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dentist with a Sense of Humor

I found this little gem at I think most patients can appreciate the humor of Dr. Dunec located in Toronto, Canada.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"DJ Talent" taking some desperate measures

Last week I read a few articles about a man named Anthony Ghosh, aka "DJ Talent." Three years ago he invested £7,000 to have gold crowns placed on all 28 teeth. According to Ghosh, this was to improve his image as well as his career. Now, due to the poor economy, he is considering selling the gold and switching to porcelain.

I found the idea a little confusing. At my dental school gold and porcelain crowns cost roughly the same, and the value of the gold is about 1/4 the cost of the procedure (at most), so switching a gold crown to porcelain wouldn't save you any money - despite the increased value in gold over the past three years. Ghosh reportedly is asking £14,000 for his old crowns.

In an attempt to clear up my confusion, I contacted "DJ Talent" via his myspace page and got permission to ask a few questions for my blog. Here is our interview:
Dental Ninja - Have you looked into how much it will cost to replace all of the gold crowns with porcelain and how much money you would save?

DJ Talent - To sell my gold teeth it would cost £14,000. So I will save £4,000 . On the sale of my gold teeth.

DN - You originally got the gold crowns to help your image and career, do you feel this was a success? Do you regret your decision?

DJT - Having gold crowns has made me famous and unique and got my name out there in the bbc news and on radio and in the sun newspapers. So I am pleased with the teeth making me a natioanal star no regrest.

DN - Reports have mentioned you were the victim of several mugging attempts because of your teeth. Was your safety at all a factor in deciding to switch to porcelain?

DJT - I haven't switched to porcelain yet. If my music and filming takes off next year I will keep my gold teeth. I have been offered porcelain teeth by tv companies and they want to do a documentary but I am not sure if I want porcelain yet. My life has changed being a high profiled dj with gold teeth. I need to lead a low profile now and I can't go to public busy places. The gold teeth have brought me alot of success and recignition.

DN - Have you considered getting a removable "grill" to keep up the image?

DJT - I haven't thought about removable grills but I am interested in other dental solutions and ideas.

DN - I read that you spent £7000, but you're hoping to sell them for £14,000. Is that because of the increase of gold prices or your celebrity status?

DJT - Because gold has gone up my celebrity status has grown and the teeth has made me become a unique national star.
For more info on DJ Talent or to hear some of his music, visit his myspace page.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Heidi Klum's Teeth

Recently Heidi Klum was a guest on The Tonight Show where she revealed an interesting quirk: she still has all her baby teeth. Look closely. Can you tell?

Ok, so she still has all her baby teeth, but not in her mouth. She keeps them in a little baggy that she carries around for good luck. Watch the full interview below. They discuss her teeth beginning at about the 4 minute mark.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Saved by the skin of his teeth!

Here's another good reason to floss - it could save your life. A couple weeks ago a 62 year old was ice skating on the Mississippi River when he fell in. He spent about an hour in the water before some local help, including his own son, were able to retrieve him - but it wasn't easy. The man disappeared under water so the son dove in and kept him afloat while the rescue team worked the rope towards him. The problem was that after an hour in the icy water, his hands no longer functioned, so his son suggested he bite on the rope while they tow him to safety. It worked, the man survived, and today he has his healthy dentition (as well as his son and the local law enforcement) to thank for it.

Full story here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Teeth Injured in Failed Escape Attempt

What if I told you that a three-year-old broke off all four of his canines and ground three incisors to stumps while attempting to gnaw his way out of a cage? You'd probably be pretty angry, right? Well what if I told you the three year old looked like this:

You'd probably be a little more at ease. Here's the story of a father and son dental duo who recently performed 4 root canals and 3 extractions to heal the feline (who happens to be a Mexican Jaguar) of his self-inflicted dental dilemma. It took a total of 6 doctors, plus a rifleman (just in case) to complete the work.

This story leaves me with two questions:
  1. How big were the endo files used in the root canals?
  2. Where do I get a rifleman?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It could be worse

There's a book up for auction this week. It was written in 1770 by Thomas Berdmore. Never heard of him? He was the dentist to King George III. This is likely the first ever English textbook on dentistry. Personally, I find Berdmore's insights to be priceless! Here's a few gems, from this article:

He writes of a 23-year-old woman left in a “terrible state” by a “barber dentist”.

“She went to a barber dentist to have the leftmolaris tooth of the upper jaw on the right side taken out,” he says.

“On second attempt he brought away the affected tooth together with a piece of jawbone as big as a walnut and three neighbouring molars.”

He says the “barber dentist” embarked on the ill-fated extraction because he was “uneasy at disappointment”.
Ha ha! I would also consider myself "uneasy at disappointment" but I'd like to think I'll stop before ripping out half of your maxilla!

Berdmore also possessed a rudimentary understanding of orthodontics, instructing fellow dentists (and barber-dentists) to "Pass gold wire from the neighbouring teeth on either side in such a manner as to press upon what stands out of the line." Either that, or you could try to “break the teeth into order by means of a strong pair of crooked pliers”.

He also observed that sugar and smoking were harmful, and that for this reason peasants suffered less dental disease than their noble counterparts.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this along as a reminder that dentistry has come a long way and you really don't have a lot to be afraid of (relatively speaking).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cowboy, Ninja, Bear

Something's been on my mind the last couple of days. Amidst all the political change we've just experienced and in a week when I've had 4 mock board exams (and one more tomorrow) as well as a couple big school events in the evenings, you'd wouldn't expect me to be thinking about this - but I think Hemingway* said it best when he penned the words, "Eventually, everyone needs to write about ninjas." For me, this time is now.

You see, anyone who knows me well is probably aware of the fact that I'm obsessed with ninjas. The seeds were planted in my childhood when, like every other boy at the time, I was a huge TMNT fan. Years and years later as I was enjoying my last real summer (the one right before dental school) my roommates and I invested in some ninja suits and spent several evenings at the secret ninja training grounds perfecting our art.

Today I read about a promising children's book that is supposed to promote equality and diversity. As I recently discussed, there are good ways and there are bad ways to go about teaching diversity. This book, called "Ninja, Cowboy, Bear" seems like a good way. In addition to celebrating the differences between the three creatures, it teaches a new game - basically paper-rock-scissors but more intense. (If you've ever wanted to play paper-rock-scissors online, click here - hours of fun).

However, there is one key flaw in the game, and subsequently the book. See if you pick up on it:

Did you catch the mistake? Go check again if you missed it. Here it is - somebody accidentally wrote "Bear beats Ninja" - can you believe it? Don't they have editors there?

I mean lets think about it for a second. Ninjas can beat cowboys - Ok, I don't think anyone can argue this one. The only possible exception might be John Wayne vs. a half of a ninja and only in the daytime.

Cowboy vs. Bear? I think this one could go either way. It probably depends on the conditions, weapons, age of cowboy, etc. Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in the position of the cowboy facing a real bear and you happen to have access to the internet and need advice, click here.

Ninja vs. Bear. We shouldn't even be talking about this. First of all, how is a bear ever going to find the ninja? Can you find the ninjas?

Keep trying. So far I've only found 2 ninjas and what might be a ninja's foot. How is a bear supposed to find them? The only way a ninja and bear would ever square off is if the ninja wanted it to happen, and in that case he would stealthily make his kill and hide the carcass so nobody would ever know about it.

Lastly, I want to share a news story my brother shared with me last year. It's from the Onion News Network, which is a lot like CNN or MSNBC but they do a lot more fact-checking so their stories are more reliable.** This story takes place in Modesto, CA, which (in case you forgot) is also home to the Nuts.

Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again

*Not Earnest Hemingway, but my imaginary friend, Dussa Hemingway.
**That's not true.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just look at those teeth......

I know I've just been posting videos lately, but this one is just too funny and it only takes a minute.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

LLUSD skits and videos

Last weekend was the annual pine springs ranch retreat. The highlight of the weekend is always the skit competition, which we take pretty seriously. Last year, my class totally blew away the competition with this parody of the hit TV show "The Office".

This year my classmates produced the sequel, but the other classes upped their game and we ended up taking third place. Here's our entry: (I'm in the bottom right corner of the screen from 6:35-6:38)

Note: Both this year and last year's office skits can be found in higher quality at

Here's the second place entry from the D2 class. If you've never seen the Blue Oyster Cult SNL skit ("I gotta have move cowbell!"), watch it here first. Then you'll better appreciate this:

In first place was the D3 class with their version of Top Gun. Pretty freakin' hilarious:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New hope for dental anxiety

I just read this article about a device developed by a dentist in Cedar Falls. Basically, the patient puts in some headphones and listens to soothing sounds (beach, forest, etc.). The device they ever-so-cleverly dubbed the "b-Calm" is supposed to "blend the frequency of the dental drill with recordings of nature sounds." I dunno, do you think it's worth a try? Does the sound of the dental drill really bother any of you?

Another article I read a couple weeks ago claimed that the scent of lavender in the waiting room had a calming effect on patients waiting to receive dental care. Personally, I think if I spent my whole career smelling lavender and listening to soothing ocean noises I'd end up a bit fruity, but any current or future patients of mine are more than welcome to inhale their own lavender and listen to soothing sounds on their Ipods when I'm working.

Here's a picture of a guy who definitely had dental anxiety. It looks like he's in a ton of pain, right? Well I can assure you, he looked like that the second he knew he was going to get a shot, not when he felt the needle. I kept stopping and asking (in my very limited Spanish) if it hurt. He'd look at me and say no, it was fine, but then go back to gripping the seat and closing his eyes really tightly as though I was torturing him. Poor guy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

One way to keep patients in line

Here's a story of a German dentist who decided to take matters into his own hands when his patient decided not to pay for her work. (This guy is what the locals would call "verr├╝ckt").
Basically, the lady's insurance wouldn't pay for two bridges and she decided it wasn't her obligation to pay for them. The Zahnartzt from Neu Ulm (I think I rode a train through there once) then breaks into her home, ties her to a chair, and reclaims the bridges.
From the article:
"The dentist is being investigated for assault for the way he forced open her mouth, and theft for taking the bridges," said Christian Owsinski a police spokesman.
Personally, I think the theft charges should be dropped. Think about it - he payed a lab fee to have the bridges made so if they belong to anybody then they are his, so this might be more of an OJ Simpson-forcefully-reclaiming-my-stuff type situation.

I do feel that he should lose his license. You simply can't perform a dental procedure (such as removing a bridge) against the patient's will. That's one of the least ethical things a dentist can do.

The creepiest part? According to the victim, he did all of this without even saying a word.

UPDATE: Court decision here. Dentist found guilty of assault and fined 6000 Euros. Patient too traumatized to wear dentures.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"The Clinic" - Loma Linda Office Spoof

The season premiere of The Office is this Thursday night. I'm looking forward to it.

If you are also a fan, might I suggest checking out this sweet video, done entirely by classmates of mine (written by this guy). It was our entry for a skit competition at the annual dental student retreat. Needless to say it was a big hit.
Without further ado, the video:

Click here for the high quality version, or watch below for the quick and dirty version (with audio delay).

Follow up: Enjoy the sequel here!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tooth Prices Dropping

At least in the UK, that is. Their current economic crisis dubbed the "credit crunch" has forced the tooth fairy to become slightly more stingy then she was six months ago. This article states that the average price of a tooth has gone from £1.22 to 87p, with 38% of Brittish children receiving absolutely nothing! 1000 parents were surveyed to find out what the tooth fairly had left their children.

Why is this? My theory is that the Tooth Fairy foolishly got locked into an adjustable rate mortgage. Think about it - the tooth fairy is always all dolled up in her fairy clothes and waving around that fancy fairy wand. Her hair and makeup is always perfect. She's obviously concerned with what others think of her and to keep up appearances she splurged on a mini-mansion she really couldn't afford. What other explanation is there? Gas prices shouldn't matter - being a fairy, she has the ability to fly. The worldwide increase in food prices? She's six inches tall, how much can she eat? Silly pretentious fairy. Now British children have less money for their Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and Fizzing Whizbees.

The silver lining? This should encourage more Brits to keep their teeth! Zing!

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Laughing Gas" fun facts

Here's some stuff you probably didn't know about the "laughing gas" you get from the dentist. I just finished taking my Nitrous Oxide competency exam and decided to pass along the more interesting trivia to you folks.

  • It was discovered in the late 1770's by Joseph Priestly. In 1779 Sir Humphrey Davey was the first human to inhale it and described it as "very pleasurable" and "euphoric." He was the one who coined the term laughing gas.
  • It wasn't originally used in a medical setting. From 1800-1844 it was mainly used at social gatherings and sideshows for entertainment.

  • In 1844 a dentist named Horace Wells was attending a demonstration. A peculiar incident happened involving a volunteer who inhaled the gas and began freaking out. (Not everybody reacts the same, and some people really don't like it.) Anyway, this guy started running around the room and gashed his leg open. Horace the dentist astutely observed that the man didn't even react to his wound - as though he didn't feel any pain. The next day Horace had his dentist buddy extracted his abscessed tooth using the gas. Horace felt no pain and proclaimed this to be "the greatest discovery ever made."
  • Originally the dentists had difficulty in delivering high concentrations of the gas due to the crude delivery systems available to them. What were these delivery systems? Ox bladders. (Don't click unless you really want to see an ox bladder.)

  • Wells, who is credited with the discovery of anesthesia, became addicted to the laughing gas and committed suicide at age 33.

  • The exact mechanism of nitrous oxide is still unknown.
So there you have it. Personally, I first had laughing gas when I was 17 and absolutely loved it. I told my dentist that if I had known how great it felt, I would have stopped brushing long ago! I also distinctly remember the feeling of having the dental room rotate around me while I was getting my wisdom teeth extracted. The song on the radio was "When I fall in love" and I remember the experience every time I hear that song.

Let me know your thoughts or any funny stories involving laughing gas. Maybe next year I'll give away a free nitrous oxide treatment to the person with the best story. Maybe.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tales from the clinic floor

Today was rough. Next time you have a dental appointment and maybe you're not really looking forward to it, just think to yourself, "at least it's not an 8-hour appointment."

That's right, today's patient drives from far away so to keep his trips back and forth to a minimum (insert token gas-prices complaint here) we decided it would be a good idea to book him for my morning and afternoon sessions. I prepped three teeth for crowns and tried (and failed) to have that be my bridge competency required for graduation. When attempting a competency, I do all the steps without help and then have two faculty members grade my work. Things kept going wrong and I seriously think I made about 20 temporary crowns before I had three that worked and I was happy with. Ugh.

Anyway, since I'm on the topic of dentistry, here's three amusing stories that happened to me lately:


A couple weeks back I was getting ready to place a space-maintainer in the mouth of a really curious seven-year-old. He had been asking questions all along and I was happy to answer them, but he really threw me for a loop when he asked why I was going to put sidewalk in his mouth. Sidewalk? I was so confused - then I remembered that I had told him the next step was to "cement" the space maintainer onto his molar. It's funny how kids think sometimes.


Recently we had mock-board exams and were required to find a patient had a specific type of cavity - a class II lesion if you were wondering. The week before the exam I was doing a pediatric rotation and came across a 13-year old with the perfect class II lesion. I convinced her and her mom to help me out but was a little concerned about whether the patient's attention span could last the whole 4-hour exam, so I told her I'd bring my video Ipod and she could watch stuff while I worked.
When exam time came I had her take a seat while I finished setting up and she started watching the Andy Milonakis Show and some stand-up comedy. The resulting scene was pretty funny - to appreciate it you have to picture the tense exam atmosphere with 100 dental chairs and hardly anybody talking. Except for a few dental drills whistling in the distance, everything is silent. Then you have this loud teenage girly giggling happening like clockwork every 20 seconds coming from cubicle 74. Soon people started turning their heads trying to figure out what was going on. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say, "Hey, I'm that good."

What's that smell?
Working on a crown competency last week, I determined that I needed to do a minor electro-surgery on the patient's gums. To do this, there's a machine you plug in and have the patient hold a metal plate, and when the end of the handpiece makes contact with the tissue it completes the circuit and basically fries the tissue. (Keep in mind the patient is numb so it's really not that bad). After doing this for a minute I explained to the patient (who grew up in El Salvador) that I was using the high volume suction so that it didn't stink. Having already caught a whiff of his own crispy gums, he smiled and told me he thought it smelled like carne asada. I told him it sort of was.

Sorry this post was all words and no pictures! I never read posts like that. Here's a totally awesome picture to try to get you to read:

(click for the bigger, more awesome version)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Puffer fish underwent emergency dental procedure

Crazy as it sounds, I'm not making this up. It happened in England. Here is the full story detailing how the fished damaged his dentition in a bout with a sting ray. It sounds like the fight busted off part of a tooth, which in and of itself would have been ok, except that puffer fish are like rats in that they need to constantly be gnawing to keep their teeth worn down. After the fight the lazy puffer fish did all his gnawing on the side with the broken tooth, allowing his other tooth to grow to the point that it started damaging his lip.


After the procedure the fish was relocated to Germany - I'd like to think that it was part of some sort of fish witness protection program to keep him safe from the sting rays.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby Epiglottis

Ever wonder how babies can drink and breath at the same time? Think about it - you can't drink and breath at the same time (try it if you don't believe me), and nursing babies don't come up for air once they "latch on".

I was studying this very concept for my board exams just over a year ago, at the same time my son was just a wee infant. The answer lies in the epiglottis. Here is an illustration of the epiglottis of an infant:
The key difference is that the shape of the baby's throat allows the epiglottis (the green shaded area) to come into contact with the soft palate (yellow), thus allowing air (shown in light blue) to enter the trachea, while milk (shown in pink) can flow around on either side.

I was recently reminded of this concept during our summer break at my parent's house when Jordan was drinking from a sippy cup and started coughing. I looked at him and asked if he got some down the wrong pipe and then realized that this had never happened to him before. I realized my little boy is growing up - his epiglottis is no longer touching his soft palate when he drinks! He'll just have to alternate between drinking and breathing just like the rest of us now. I think this is a milestone in toddlers lives that most parents are unaware of.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I had ants crawling on my ears today. I have no idea how this happened. Around 9:00 this moring I'm sitting there doing dentistry and feel one crawling on my ear. I took off my glove and brushed it away, only to have the same thing happen 10 minutes later. Then around 3:00 this afternoon it happened again! I was in the middle of polishing up a filling I had just placed and really didn't want to take time out of the procedure to take off my gloves, brush the ant away, and re-glove; and I definitely didn't want to touch my own ear with slobbery gloves, (gross!) so I just kept working while the little bugger crawled around for two minutes and bit me three times. I don't think I've ever been so angry at a single ant in my entire life. Maybe someday when I'm working in my own office and have an assistant, I can simply call out "Ant" and she can brush it off of my ear. Someday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"It's better to lose a tooth than to lose your life"

That's the quote from the brave 11-year-old Brazilian boy who recently fended off a pit bull attack by sinking his teeth into the dog's neck! How's this for irony - he broke his canine when he sank his teeth into the neck of a canine! Ha! He needed 4 stitches in his arm, and the article says he was freed when bystanders pulled the dog off of him, but I think it was actually the dog who was freed from the vicious boy. Talk about fighting fire with fire!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Busting a myth that's been bugging me

Maybe you've heard this before, maybe not, but the myth I'm addressing is this: Dentists have the highest rate of suicide.

This has been brought to my attention a few times since becoming a dental student. It's usually somebody trying to make smalltalk, but many who've brought it up have done so in a way that led me to believe that they really think it's true.

So, I set out to do some investigating today. I had intentions of writing this post with well-referenced credible links but didn't actually find any official list. Upon typing dentists and suicide in the good old google, I found no references to support this claim, although I did learn quite a bit. Here's the summary of today's web surfing:

  • The topic is somewhat unclear because suicides usually aren't classified by profession. There is a plethora of data regarding race, age, and gender because those things show up on death certificates and can easily be compiled.
  • The rate for health care professionals as a whole is elevated.
  • A possible explanation of this is that health care professionals generally live healthier lifestyles and are less likely to die from other causes.
  • Another explanation could be the stress that comes with being a "professional".
  • Medical Doctors (MD's) have a higher rate of suicide than their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) counterparts. Most sources credit white male physicians as having the highest suicide rate, although the females in the profession aren't far behind - which is unusual.
  • Psychiatrists also have a higher rate of suicide than dentists, although they have their own urban legend to deal with regarding their "highest suicide rate".
  • One study had sheepherders and wool workers topping the list.
So there you have it. Don't believe this when you hear it unless they have a source more credible than Benji's Blog©. If they do, please send it my way.

I guess this concludes my suicide note. Ha!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another small plus to a career in dentistry

I used to wonder what would happen if I had allergies while I was working as a dentist - after all, how would you feel if your dentist kept sneezing while working on you? Well, yesterday and today I had the chance to find out. Something's in the air down here and I've been sniffling and sneezing like crazy - except while I'm working on the clinic! Apparently the mask filters out all the pollen or whatever is aggravating my allergies so I have 100% relief while I'm working. How neat.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Here's an article about an oral surgery center in NY that apparently forgot about one of their patients when they were locking up for the evening. The patient woke up from surgery and was all alone in the dark, which was probably a little disconcerting. I actually thought the story was sort of amusing because obviously she was ok, although she was terrified and threw up a couple of times.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I'm currently a fourth year dental student at the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in southern California. In college I majored in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Folklore and a minor in Chemistry. I'm a proud husband and father and expecting my second child in May, right about graduation time!

What this blog is:
The Dental Ninja blog is a collection of interesting/entertaining/amusing/funny news items involving the field of dentistry, as well as the occasional ninja post. If you are at all involved in the field of dentistry, this blog is for you. Enjoy!

What this blog is not:
The Dental Ninja blog is not another site that reviews various dental products or discusses things I learned at the latest continuing education course. (I'd like to think that if a "normal person" stumbles onto this blog they don't run away for fear of boredom).

The blog wasn't actually created until December of 2008. Any entries with an earlier date have been retroactively re-posted from my personal blog (except for this one, which I'm typing right now). That's why there aren't any comments on most of the early content - not because I'm a big loser with no friends, although that is also true.

I wanted to better cater to my dentally-minded readers without boring the anti-dentites who personally know me.

Why Ninjas?

There are, literally, billions of things that dentists and ninjas have in common. Masks, for example. If you really think about it, it all makes perfect sense. A better question would by why aren't there ninjas on everyone else's websites? (Or are there?)