Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hell hath no fury....

According to the gossip in Star Magazine, Tiger Woods has been laying low - not because of his embarrassment or his lack of a good explanation - no, he's been in hiding because he's missing a tooth! In addition to her expensive rampage chasing him through his home with a golf club, wife Elin supposedly threw a phone at the golfer and it cost him one of his chompers.

Who knew? Golfers need to wear mouthguards too!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Teeth - is there anything they can't do?

In a news story you have to see to believe, Doctors recently performed a procedure known as "osteo-odonto kerato prostheses" on a woman in south Florida. Ok you smarty pants readers, before you read on, let's hear your guesses as to what this procedure might do. In the meantime, here's a huge hint:

Yup, they ironically implanted her canine, aka "eye tooth" inside her eye, to hold a prosthetic lens in place! Read the full, interesting, and somewhat bizarre story here (Fox News).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Orbital Hygiene

Last week, gizmodo.com featured an interesting post by astronaut/blogger Leroy Chiao on the challenges of brushing your teeth in space. He pointed out that some normally difficult tasks are actually much easier in zero gravity - i.e. moving a large appliance like a refrigerator. On the flip side, some simple tasks (like oral hygiene) can be much more challenging. After all, when was the last time you lost the cap to the toothpaste and had to look for it on the ceiling? NASA learned long ago that it's a good idea to only send toothpaste tubes with non-detachable lids into orbit.

The major difference is that all the little articles must be meticulously velcroed, bungeed, or held in your hand so as not to misplace anything. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the water must be carefully dispensed from a little pouch in order to prevent what I picture to be a "crazy space spill". And then there's the question of what to do with your mouthful of water and toothpaste. NASA's solution? Swallow it. Makes sense. If you're only in space for a week at a time it's probably no big deal, even if it's a little gross. I'd be interested to know what the astronauts who live in the international space station do. If any astronauts happen to read this, please, let me know.

See the full article at gizmodo.com for more.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Up - Britain's got "DJ" Talent

My old friend DJ Talent, the "celebrity" I interviewed shortly after beginning this blog, is back in the public spotlight! Check out the fresh beats this "self confessed bad boy" lays down for Simon Cowell:

Perhaps he won't resort to selling the gold after all? Here's the irony - the only way that selling used gold crowns would be profitable is if this competition significantly boosts his celebrity status which would add value to the chompers. If that were to happen, he wouldn't be so hard-up for cash and would want to keep the gold teeth because they are a part of his image. I think it's safe to say he'll be keeping them in until recurrent decay has its way with the teeth.

Good luck in the competition DJ Talent.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Incensed over an Incisor

When Savannah Simmons asked her dentist to fabricate her dentures using a gold maxillary lateral incisor as a tribute to her late father, she had no idea that the tooth would one day find itself at the center of a little controversy. That's because she didn't anticipate being included in a Rhodes College project through its Center for Outreach and Development of the Arts, and certainly couldn't have guessed that her grinning mug would find its way onto a giant, highly visible wall in downtown Memphis.

Enter one Gregory Grant, a man who balances his duties as president of the Memphis chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network with the time he spends as a Memphis tour guide. On a recent tour, Grant noticed the new mural and was "incensed" at the racial stereotype. He complained to the university, saying "The next thing I know you'll have a little boy sitting on a riverbank eating watermelon."

When it was explained to Grant that the woman in the mural was indeed a real person and not a fictitious racial stereotype, he quickly changed his tune and issued a press release inviting the public to this Sunday's debut party for the mural, which "shows Memphis as a harmonious city -- a city that embraces its diversity."

In Grant's defense, his duties with the National Action Network include constantly "telling young people to take the gold teeth out and pull your pants up."

Wise ninja say, be slow to anger lest ye find yourself quite the fool.

Source article at commercialappeal.com

A ray of hope....

Reading the news the past several months hasn't brought a lot of good news. Until today. Ninja Turtles "origins" movie slated for 2011. Cowabunga!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Follow Up - Tiny Tim's Teeth

For those of you who recently read about the famous musician's dental models and thought to yourself, "Aw, shucks. Too bad I didn't know about this item earlier because I totally would have won that auction!" - I have some great news!!!

I was just contacted by the ebay seller and informed that there is yet another of Tiny Tim's dental models up for grabs between now and April 30th. This one is half of an arch which was used to fabricate a crown on the lower right 2nd molar (aka tooth #31 here in the states).

Click here to check it out and place your bid.

A couple interesting things about Tiny Tim based on this photo are that he never had his wisdom teeth removed and that he had a severe arch length discrepancy, demonstrated by the funky position of the canine.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Ninjavitis, as currently defined by the urban dictionary:
1. An oral condition that causes ones breath to be so noxious that it can sneak up on unsuspecting people and be nearly fatal.
2. When the physical state of ones mouth is so repugnant that it looks like a skilled ninja has drop-kicked them squarely in the mouth.
1. I heard that John is in the hospital, cuz he went to kiss Sheila goodnight, and her ninjavitis made him go into shock.
2. god rest his soul, but ODB musta been in a fight with the RZA cause even his goldfronts had sum ninjavitis.
Personally, I think the definition should be expanded to include the very ninja-esque art of deception. For example, you see a seemingly healthy mouth, but as you go in for the kiss, BOOM, ninjavitis!

To demonstrate, this pirate mouth has been raped and pillaged by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (that's one of the main gum-disease causing bacteria, for all you anti-dentites). It will obviously present with an odor capable of killing a small family of squirrels. If you ever snuggle up with a pirate, you deserve what you get:

Conversely, an attractive mouth, as can be found on actress Eva Mendes (recently voted best celebrity smile by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry), has the potential to deceive you in a halitosal sneak attack of epic proportions:

While the Dental Ninja has never been close enough to Eva Mendes to determine whether or not she has ninjavitis, other dentists have documented similar cases which were subsequently published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals such as this one: (click to enlarge)

(see evil-comic.com for more)

Be on the lookout for Ninjavitis, and if you happen see any more case studies of this deadly new epidemic please send them my way.

(Special thanks to DN reader Melissa Stewart, a hygiene student from Virginia, for the idea for this post!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Teeth of Tiny Tim Turn a Profit

Pirates suck
Before proceeding with my usual noteworthy dental story, I'd like to take a minute to congratulate the U.S. Navy Seals on their recent 3-0 victory over the Somali Pirates. As a ninja, I'm naturally a sworn enemy to pirates and am always delighted to see them defeated. When was the last time you heard of a ninja defeat? In fact, when was the last time you heard of a ninja? Exactly. Ninja victories come and go and you are none the wiser. Because we're NINJAS! For the rest of this month I'm declaring all Navy Seals honorary ninjas.

That first impression.....
Next time you're struggling to get that perfect impression - the one that would satisfy the sternest of dental bosses or cranky prosthodontic instructors - just keep this in the back of your mind: someday, this patient might become famous, and if they do, and if you hang onto the models, you could totally make some money on ebay!!!!!

That's what happened with the dental models of American musician "Tiny Tim." A recent upi.com article details the journey of the models from the wife of the late musician, to a fan from Massechusets, to ebay, to the buyer in Texas, earning a cool $1500 along the way.

For those of you who, like me, saw the headline and thought of the humble little crippled boy from "A Christmas Carol," here's a sample of the other Tiny Tim, whose legs appear to function just fine. His voice? Well, you decide:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some Unusual Dental Woes

A couple news stories stood out to me this week.

The first involves the band called "Hold Steady." Never heard of them? Here they are in a recent performance on The Late Show with David Letterman:

You'll notice how much the lead singer bounces his head around while performing. Well, it turns out that rappers aren't the only ones losing their teeth at concerts lately. In a recent interview with spinner.com, frontman Craig Finn confided:
"It's embarrassing, but I've bashed my teeth on my microphone and knocked them out five times. Now, I put a foam thing over it like a windscreen for protection."
The microphone? Five times? Really?!? There are guys who spend an entire hockey career losing less teeth than that! In another preventative measure, Finn mentioned that during concerts there is now "less beer onstage." Somehow I get the feeling there used to be a lots and lots of beer onstage.

This week's second dental oddity comes from Zac Sunderland, a 17-year-old southern Californian who is attempting to be the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Before departure, he wisely saw his dentist who informed him that his wisdom teeth should probably come out within 6 months.

Lo and behold, 9 months into the journey he began having some dental pain due to the 3rd molars. He shared his experience on his blog, claiming "Now one of them is pressing on my back molar and feels like it is on fire."

Not to worry, he was able to get some advice from his dentist and in his next post he claimed that the pain had subsided. Good luck Zac, hopefully you won't end up having the same experience as Chuck Noland in the movie "Cast Away."
(Full story found in the LA Times)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Case of the Mysterious Molars

Picture this: You're in the woods enjoying a leisurely walk just southeast of Rochester, Minnesota. You happen upon a suspicious mesh bag hanging from a tree about five feet off the ground. Like the curious little raccoon you are, you look in side the bag only to discover a glass jar, which you of course promptly open and find a rolled up sock along with several human teeth. Bizarre? You bet.

Since I've been reading "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" this week the solution was, to me, quite obvious. You see, when you apply the proper deductive reasoning it becomes glaringly obvious that the teeth were obviously... well... ok I'd probably be stumped. So was the woman to whom this happened. She called the local police who were also baffled. The mystery was finally solved when a member of the Southeast Minnesota Search and Rescue Squad called to explain that they had been using the items to train their dogs and that they must have left it behind, which I find just a little ironic.

Full article can be found here (post-bulletin.com).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is it in you?

Normally I like to stay away from the science and stick with "dental entertainment" news, but this recent study from NYU college of dentistry was pretty interesting. Popular sports drinks such as gatorade, powerade, and propel are just as bad for your teeth as soft drinks, if not worse. This isn't news. What is new is the discovery that it's better to wait 30 minutes between consuming said sports drinks and brushing your teeth! The science says that the acidic drinks de-mineralize and weaken the enamel to the point that normal toothbrush abrasion takes a much bigger toll. Conversely if one waits before brushing, the saliva has a chance to re-mineralize the tooth surface making it more resistant to toothbrush wear. Who new? NYU knew, that's who. Full news article here (Forbes.com).

And finally, just so this post isn't all business, allow me to share with you the Pirates vs. Ninjas mobile (for a baby crib). Coincidentally I happen to be expecting my second little ninja warrior in about a month. Unfortunately it's currently sold out, which isn't really surprising when you consider its inherent awesomeness.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

T-Pain lives up to his name

How's this for irony? The rapper "T-Pain" recently suffered a dental injury in which he lost four anterior teeth! Unfortunately for T-Pain, this injury did nothing for his street cred. Immediately after it happened, rumors began circulating that he crashed his golf-cart while backstage. He addressed these rumors at a concert several days later:
“There's a lot of talk that I flipped over in a golf cart…That's f---ing true."
The full article can be found here (MTV.co.uk). Personally, I think this is a great opportunity to start the next big hip-hop dental fad. Gold teeth have been done, grillz are so played out, and diamonds are just too expensive for the average would-be rapper. T-Pain, I hereby issue you the challenge to come up with the next big thing that will keep guys like me busy doing totally unnecessary procedures for up-and-coming rappers trying to make a name for themselves. Show me what you've got.

If you have no idea who this T-Pain fellow is, check out this music video he recently did with "The Lonely Island." It's a parody on the part of hip-hop culture that dictates how rappers must flaunt all their wealth in their music videos. I must warn you, even though this video is edited, it's still pretty explicit:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break

The Dental Ninja will be away from the computer for a while, but be sure to check back in a week or two for more neat-o stories! In the meantime, feel free to read about my brush with a cinnamon-flavored death on my personal blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Negotiating prices with the dentist

This is pretty funny if you haven't already seen it. I apologize about the sound quality but it was this way on every version of this video that I found, so I think it was originally like this. Enjoy:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Celebrity Dentist Spotlight: George Hardy

There are basically two types of people in this world: those who have seen the movie "Troll 2" and those who haven't. If you find yourself in the latter group, I suggest you do something about it. I was introduced to this cinematic masterpiece about 10 years ago by some of my, let's say, "more cultured" high school friends.

Troll 2 has recently been heralded as the "best worst movie" and is the subject of a new documentary of the same title. A few highlights that have stuck with me, aside from the spot-on writing and superb acting, were when I noticed a fly landing on the camera lens and then flying away a moment later. Nobody else in the room saw it so we had to go back and watch it again. There was also the point in the movie when a stage hand walked onto the set during an intense fighting scene, realized his mistake, and backed away around a corner. Everyone in the room saw that one.

What I didn't know until this week was that the actor who played Michael Waits, the father of the vacationing family, is a dentist! In a recent interview with Hollywood Insider, George Hardy shares with us how he got involved in such an epic project. A patient of his, who happened to be an actress, told him he should audition for a film being shot in Park City. Armed with only his high school drama background, Hardy was ecstatic when he landed the second lead! He spent the next three weeks alternating between filming and dentistry.

Hardy knew this was no ordinary film when he realized that the crew consisted entirely of Italians who didn't speak English. The lone translator was their wardrobe lady with a background in Italian porn, which is sort of ironic. Do porn movies really need wardrobe people? Hardy thinks that the language barrier was the main reason the movie turned out so weird and remembers sitting in a corner trying, and failing, to make any sense of the script.

Now, 19 years later, Hardy accepts and even embraces his part in one of the worst movies of all time and loves the attention he gets from adoring fans everywhere!

For those of you who still need some convincing, here's a clip I found that highlights some of the wonders of this film, but I strongly recommend just getting the movie instead.

You can't piss on hospitality!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Truckstop Dentist

CNN had an interesting article this week about Dr. Thomas P. Roemer, a dentist with a unique niche. Years ago he noticed several referrals coming into his office from the nearby Iowa 80 Truckstop. (This is no ordinary gas station, folks. The compound sprawls over 200 acres and caters to all things trucker).

Eventually Dr. Roemer realized that he was making more money from his emergency pulpotomies and extractions than he was with the whole gamut of procedures in his general practice, so he closed his doors and set up a one-man operatory within the Iowa 80 Truckstop.

There are several advantages to this practice style. First, it's recession proof. People don't spare any expense when they are in agonizing pain. Second, extremely low overhead expenses. It's practically just the Dr. and the forceps! Third, relieving a patient of their pain can be one of the most rewarding experiences in dentistry because of the sincere appreciation for the service. Some of my best dental school moments have come while working the urgent care block.

The disadvantages? I'm not sure I could spend my whole career doing extractions. At a truckstop. In Iowa. But hey, to each his own! Full article found here at cnn.com.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sacred Tooth Relic

If any Dental Ninja readers happen to be in Sri Lanka this week, don't miss your chance to visit the Sacred Tooth Relic! Today is the first day of the public exposition which will happen every afternoon until March 16th. Over a million people are expected to visit and pay homage to the tooth, thus invoking blessings of peace and prosperity on the country. More info found in Sri Lanka's Daily News.

What is the Sacred Tooth, you ask? Only the most storied tooth that ever was! Legend has it that after his death, Buddha's body was cremated and somebody retrieved a canine tooth from the pile of ashes. The tooth became a royal possession, and a legend grew that whoever possessed the tooth had a right to rule the land. Consequently wars were fought over possession of the tooth, which I'm sure is exactly what the enlightened one would want.

At one point a King, know as Paandu, decided it would be in everyone's best interest to destroy the tooth. Before he could carry out his plans, a miracle happened and he was converted to Buddhism, and of course he then spared the tooth. The tooth survived other attempts to destroy it and eventually was smuggled to Kandy, Sri Lanka where it resides today.

Here is a picture of the temple housing the canine in Sri Lanka:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Teeth showing up in the most peculiar places

Last Saturday a lucky Wal-mart shopper near Boston happened upon a wallet full of teeth on one of the store shelves. In a completely unnecessary (and untrue) statement, police explained that they can't perform DNA testing because there was no blood or gum tissue attached. What they should have said was that they could access the pulp chambers and do DNA testing, but why on earth would they? To send a message to the rest of us that if we leave our teeth somewhere, they'll find us? Full story at the Boston Globe.

Next we have a story that happened last month in Illinois. Jennifer Napolitano ordered a sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts and discovered, yes, a tooth. Actually this might be a case where DNA testing would come in handy. The source of the tooth would answer a few questions, and based on the amount of people named in Jennifer's lawsuit (4 people and 7 corporations) it would probably be worth it. Jennifer claims that she, "suffered great pain and aguish, both in mind and body, and in the future continues to suffer." Coincidentally, that's exactly how I describe dental school. Full story from Chicago's CBS news.

Lastly, a mystery surrounding a set of dentures that were built into a wall in the British town of Steyning, has recently been solved. An 81-year old claims to have know two guys by the name of Jack and Horace, and they put the teeth into the wall in 1954 as a joke. Since then, various accounts as to the denture's origins have been passed told and re-told. The city is actually asking for someone to donate a new set of teeth so the town can keep the folklore going after the wall is re-built. If you're interested in donating your old dentures, the article found in the Chichester Observer encourages you to visit the construction site.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy National Tooth Fairy Day

That's right. According to the Census Bureau Daily, February 28th is National Tooth Fairy Day. To celebrate, the Dental Ninja is giving you some "Tooth Fairy Fun Facts."
  • In early European times, it was custom to bury one's baby teeth. This is likely due to the superstition that if a witch happens to get a hold of it, she could put a curse on you. The best way to keep it away from the witches is to bury it.
  • Spanish-speaking countries believe in a "tooth mouse" rather than fairy. The character, known as the "Ratón Pérez" first appeared in a story written for eight-year old Alfonso XIII, as one of his teeth had fallen out. The story stuck, and the character has even been used by Colgate for marketing in Venezuela and Spain.
  • The 18th century French fairy tale "La Bonne Petite Souris" depicts a tooth mouse who morphs into a fairy to help a good queen defeat an evil king by hiding under his pillow. She then tortures him by knocking out all his teeth! This begs the question, why hasn't Disney turned this lovely little tale into a movie?
  • Scotland's lowland areas have a tradition which, like the French fairy tale, combines a mouse and a fairy. The little lads and lassies eagerly await the visit from a white fairy mouse which purchases the teeth with coins.
  • India, Korea, and Vietnam have traditions similar to that of the Japanese in that they throw the exfoliated teeth, however, they aren't as concerned with throwing them straight. Instead, these children throw it and shout a request for the tooth to be replaced by a rodent's tooth. It has something to do with the fact that rodent teeth never stop growing.
  • Children in parts of India will offer their discarded teeth to the sun.
  • The Tooth Fairy as we know her today isn't actually that old. Folklore researchers find the first references around 1900.
Since so many cultures believe in a mouse-fairy combo, I've taken it upon myself to create this composite image to help my fellow Americans visualize what a mouse-fairy might look like:

And, just in case you need a little help explaining the whole Tooth Fairy concept to your little ones, here's a little example from our friends Chris and Brian:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dentist: The ultimate Scottish celebrity

If you watch Grey's Anatomy, you may recognize this character, Dr. Owen Hunt:

What you might not have known is that actor Kevin McKidd hails from Scotland, and while his TV show character may be all business, he can be quite the kidder. Recently he told Ellen Degeneres that the locals in his hometown thought he was "nuts" for pursuing a career in acting, and that "the biggest celebrity you can become in Scotland is a dentist." Full story from the Daily Record.

How about that? Maybe I need to start promoting my blog across the pond.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meredith Vieira's Parafunction

During the Super Bowl Festivities earlier this month, Meredith Vieira chipped a tooth while trying to tear off a wrist band. This unfortunate incident happened right after I published the warning message from the inhabitants of Iran's Burnt City regarding the dangers of PARAFUNCTION! Obviously Meredith is not a regular reader of the Dental Ninja. Meredith, if someone happens to point this blog out to you, seriously, just use scissors. They're so much cheaper!

But you probably know that now.

This isn't the first time she's had dental woes. In 2007 she awoke one morning to discover two chipped front teeth. It was likely due to an ice skating mishap the night before, although she has been known to grind her teeth at night.

Here are some classic moments involving Meredith and some pain that is not of the dental variety:

You can't help but feel bad for these poor contestants, who obviously had a giant brain fart at the worst possible time!

Also, for those of you who've been wondering, here's a quick follow up to the story of the German dentist who broke into the patient's home to take back his handiwork: The dentist was found guilty of assault and fined 6000 Euros. The patient no longer wears dentures because of the distress caused by the incident.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

There's no Tooth Fairy - at least not in Japan

That's right, according to a kotaku.com blog entry earlier this week, when little Japanese boys and girls lose a tooth they don't bother putting it under the pillow. Instead, the custom is to give it a good toss. Maxillary teeth get thrown down towards the ground and mandibular teeth are thrown into the air (the same direction they grow). The trick is to throw the tooth as straight as possible because this ensures that the permanent tooth comes in straight.

While this may seem like a bad deal for the child, if it actually worked the family would come out way ahead because of the decreased need for pricey orthodontic work! I'd gladly give my son $10 for each tooth he can get to grow in straight. Better go work on that aim.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Dental Trivia

This past week was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. To celebrate, most employers give their workers something that we in the dental world enjoy on a regular basis: a four-day work week!

Although there are more books written about this man than any other American, here are a few nuggets you might not have known:
  • A dentist broke off part of Lincoln's jaw bone while pulling a tooth without anesthesia. The extraction may have taken place in Louisville, KY in Sept. 1841.
  • It has been said that Lincoln was afraid of dentists, which would make sense given what you just learned. In 1862 Lincoln developed a severe toothache and consulted Dr. G. S. Wolf, who had an office near the White House. As Wolf prepared to pull the tooth, Lincoln asked him to wait. Lincoln "took a container of chloroform from his pocket, inhaled it deeply, and sleepily gave the signal for the dentist to proceed."
  • During his campaign for the Presidency, Lincoln liked to recount how during his childhood he was kicked in the teeth by a horse and "apparently killed for a time." I bet if you asked him he'd tell you the experience was a good preparation for a life in politics.
  • Honest Abe, centuries ahead of his time, was the first to sport a "gangsta grill" when he dawned the flashy chompers for the music video debut of his 1859 hit single "Get Ur Union On."
All information was taken from doctorzebra.com and abrahamlincolnarchive.com, except for that last one about the music video. That was actually something I learned from my own research, so, if you need a citation for a research paper, just write "Dental Ninja" and I'm sure it will be fine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bacon Floss

The Dental Ninja is in Washington DC this week, lobbying on behalf of the American Student Dental Association. Being involved in ASDA is one of the most rewarding things I've done while in dental school. Tomorrow I'll be meeting with members of congress and asking for funding for the National Health Service Corps (also here) as well as Meth-mouth prevention.

These are issues that matter to me and I'm glad I can be involved. Click on the links if you're interested in the dirty details. If not, let me leave you with a great find from Dental Ninja reader Amy. Ladies and Gentelmen, I give you bacon-flavored floss.

So you can clean your teeth and continue to enjoy that nice bacon flavor just a little longer. If any Dental Ninja readers order this product, please let me know how it goes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Laughing Gas Kid and Mr. Do-It-Yourself

Several people have brought this clip to my attention this week. Freakin' hilarious:

This happened last summer after 7-year-old David had some dental work done. After just one week on YouTube it's already had over 5 million views! Here is some background from the boy's father:
This is my 7 year old son who had an extra tooth removed last summer, 2008.

I had the camera because he was so nervous before and I wanted him to see the before and after.

He was so out of it after, I had to carry him out of the office. The staff was trying to keep from laughing. I had tears from laughing so hard.

He is doing fine now and the teeth are great.


Also worth reporting this week was the story of a man who probably wishes he had the benefit of Nitrous Oxide. Ian Boyntan, a 42-year-old British veteran who served as a medic in Iraq in 2003, was so frustrated trying (and failing) to find an NHS dentist that he took matters into his own hands. Over the last two years he has removed 13 of his own teeth using a pair of pliers. He claims to have suffered from an excruciating toothache since 2006. Looking at the pictures provided in the article, I can see at least six possible toothaches.

I can also say that this guy is pretty good. I see 11 intact teeth without broken root tips. My guess is that the other two teeth were so decayed that they crumbled apart on the way out. I'd say 11/13 isn't bad for amateur hour. He apparently also has a good bedside manner when treating himself. He claims, "Amazingly, it did not hurt as much as you might think."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dental Dreaming

Since beginning dental school, I've had several dreams that involve my teeth. Several times I've dreamed that my teeth were cracking and falling apart. In talking with my classmates I've learned that I'm not the only one who has had this dream.

Last night was perhaps my most bizarre dental dream yet. I was looking in the mirror and examining my teeth, each one of which happened to be about the size of golf ball! This was actually completely normal for some reason. What wasn't normal was the awful condition of my pearly whites. I was so embarrassed because I clearly had several cavities. These were no ordinary cavities, mind you. I was able to fit the tip of my pinkie finger inside some of them. Also, the holes weren't all gunky and soft like decayed tooth structure normally appears. On the contrary, my cavities were well defined, giving my teeth a sort of swiss-cheese appearance. I remember two things really concerning me:

1. I knew it would take a very large amount of composite filling material to fix my smile- at least 20 cartridges per tooth. I was worried about the amount of polymerization shrinkage and the associated post-op sensitivity and risk for fracture. (That's right, I'm even a nerd in my own dreams).

2. I was worried about what would happen a few months from now when I show up as the new dentist in town with holes all through my teeth. Way to make a good first impression, Doctor.

Needless to say, I was relieved when I woke up to find I had my normal-sized healthy teeth back. I'd like to hear if any of the Dental Ninja readers have ever had a bizarre tooth-related dream. If so, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy "Pet Dental Health Month"

That's right, in addition to black history month, February is dedicated to increasing awareness of pet dental health. (Doing some quick research I discovered there are over 10 things for which February is known, and found it ironic that this website claims it is both "Children's Dental Health Month" and "National Snack Food Month." Nice.)

Here are some quick "Pet Dental Health" fun facts:
  • Over 85% of dogs and cats over 4 years old have periodontal concerns.
  • You should brush your pets teeth daily, but not with people toothpaste. Ask your veterinarian for special animal toothpaste.
  • Plaque will first show up as yellow or brown staining where the teeth meet the gums. If you notice this, it's time for a visit to the vet.
  • If you notice this in your own mouth, definitely go see the dentist - but please see someone other than me.
  • Hard food in your pet's diet can help remove plaque, but is no replacement for regular brushing.
  • In most animals, flossing is not necessary because of the open spaces between the teeth.
  • Sharks actually have "wimpy" bites, and are only dangerous because their teeth are so sharp. More on that here.

More resources:
Dental Health Should be a High Priority for your Pet
Periodontal Disease in Pets
FAQ about Toothbrushing and Cleanings in Dogs and Cats
Your local veterinarian

Lastly, here's a couple of doggie dental stories I found amusing:

1. This account of a British dog who spent the day with his teeth glued together from biting into a fast-food menu that came with the mail. The dog, who had been trained to retrieve the mail, apparently couldn't open his mouth, which necessitated a trip to the vet.

2. This blog-post about "MacKenzie Boy," a Boston Terrier located in the state of Washington, who in 1938 was given a full set of dentures. He is believed to be the first dog to ever wear dentures. The little snippet of an aritcle shows the dog being fitted for the dentures, but doesn't go into a lot of detail. Call me a skeptic, but I have my doubts as to whether the dog was indeed able to succesfully masticate using the prostheses. It's hard enough to get people accustomed to new dentures, working with a dog would seem downright impossible!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iran's 5200-year-old Dirtly Little Secret

An 12-year excavation project concluded last week, uncovering the mysteries of Iran's "Burnt City." Of particular interest to the Dental Ninja is the discovery of rampant PARAFUNCTION among inhabitants of the Burnt City.

For you anti-dentites, "function" refers to the use of teeth for the purposes for which teeth were intended (i.e. chewing, speaking, smiling, and let's not forget scaring your enemies). "Parafunction" refers to the use of teeth for anything else, such as biting through fishing line or fingernails, opening a package, or holding your wife while flying high above the ground swinging from a trapeze.


Anthropologists discovered various wear patterns in the dentition of the Burnt City inhabitants which lead them to conclude that the mouth was regarded as a "fifth hand."

The Tehran Times explains that teeth were helpful for "weaving wicker, nets and textiles, and in creating artwork with ornamental stones."

What the article won't tell you, however, is something the archeologists don't know: the cause of the Burnt City's downfall. Let us consider a society where all the artists and textile workers spend their lives using their teeth as hands. My theory is that competition drove them to work harder and harder, eventually wearing grooves and holes all through the enamel into the dentin and approximating the pulp, causing EXTREME sensitivity. Eventually there was a breaking point, and half of the city went INSANE from the DENTAL PAIN. (Wow, that sounds like a song title - watch for it on my next album). From this point on, the city imploded on itself. All order was lost and chaos prevailed. My friends, this was indeed a grim demise. Had the ancient inhabitants left us a record, I'm convinced they would have warned us of the dangers of parafunction.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gum Control in Mexico

4 out of 5 dentists may recommend chewing gum to reduce cavities, but one Mexican director for conservation of public spaces recommends swallowing that gum when you're done. On the other hand, one pediatrician warns that doing so could cause an intestinal blockage. What do I do?!?

The controversy centers around a sticky statistic: in Mexico City, the city-wide average for number of discarded gum blobs per square yard of sidewalk is 70.

This article from Yahoo News, which is a pretty interesting read, outlines the problem and a few possible solutions, ranging from expensive sidewalk steam cleaners to organic gum that supposedly breaks down much more quickly than regular gum. The large-scale city clean-up is set to begin next week.

The Dental Ninja's solution? Just throw your gum in the garbage like a normal person.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A dedicated actress

If you happen to watch NBC's "The Last Templar" premiering next Sunday, here's something to watch for: a very painful passionate kiss.

That's because actress Mira Sorvino suffered a dental injury during filming in Morocco. She reportedly broke 5 teeth! Details are sketchy, but this article states that "a big wave crashed over her during a boat scene, and it washed out her contacts. Then, she says a hook got caught, and it slammed into her face, breaking five of her teeth."

In true "the show must go on" fashion, production continued with a passionate kissing scene. Ouch.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bullet-stopping dentures

That's right, I bet you never thought these....

would be albe to stop this:

This story happened last October in Croatia, where Stipe and Mirna Cavlovic were caught up in the middle of a disagreement between two men involving money. (The article, found here, doesn't really go into detail on how or why the couple were involved, or what caliber of weapon was used).

One thing led to another and eventually one of the men pulled a gun and fired point blank. The bullet grazed Mirna's cheekbone and slammed into Stipe's mouth where it came to rest in his dentures! Stipe said of the incident:
I thought I was dead for sure. I didn't even see the bullet hit my wife. I just saw the flash of the gun's barrel.

The next thing I knew was something hit my false tooth and I spat out the hot lead. It hurt like hell but we're both still alive.
Ballistic experts attribute Stipe's survival to the bullet having lost so much speed by grazing Mirna's cheekbone. The would-be killer fled the scene but was later arrested.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Ninja" in the news...

This story has been all over the news, but in case you missed it, a Florida man recently failed to steal two ATM's and was seen on security camera footage dressed as a ninja. Authorities have dubbed him "the Ninja Bandit," which is unfortunate because he is quite obviously not a ninja. How do I know? Other than being a ninja myself, there are some dead giveaways:
  • He was seen by the cameras.
  • He is clearly out of shape.
  • He failed his objectives.
Had he been a true ninja, the headlines would have read, "Two ATM's mysteriously disappear overnight - Police have no leads"

No, my friends, this was not at all the work of a ninja. This was the work of a pirate, either trying to damage the reputation of ninjas, or dressing up in the middle of the night to secretly satisfy his inner ninja. How do I know he was a pirate? Three good reasons:
  • He was seen by the cameras.
  • He is clearly out of shape.
  • He failed his objectives.
Had there been audio of the security footage, I'm convinced we would have heard phrases like "yarr!" and "aye, surrender the booty ye metal devil clobberhead!"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

For the Love of Teeth!

Every once in a while I come across a story too bizarre to not share. This is one of them.

Hannibal Helmerto is a man who left his normal life as a German tax inspector to join the circus as a sword swallower (really). He surgically modified his tongue so he looks like a snake, which, I might point out, is a great career move for anyone. Somewhere along the way he met and married a lovely lady and they settled down in London. Unfortunately, Hannibal and his wife recently started having marital troubles and got divorced.

In preparation for the divorce settlement, Hannibal took some extreme measures to keep his most prized possession - a 40,000 year old piece of mammoth ivory. He removed two of his own teeth and implanted the ivory in their place. Hannibal Claims: "I could bear to lose everything but my ivory. She can't take my body away from me and nobody can pull my teeth out. It's part of me now and there's nothing she can do about it."

This article, which can be found in its entirety here, leaves me with a few questions.

#1 - Did he do the procedure himself of did a dentist do it? This is really lose-lose. If he did it, he had no idea what he was doing and it will soon fall out anyway. If a dentist did it - I'd have to question the ethics of that dentist. The only way I would ever perform a similar procedure is if the patient's teeth were diseased and he needed dental implants anyway, but even then I would have to do some research on the procedure and the likely outcome. (40,000 year old mammoth implants isn't something they cover in dental school).

#2 - Would that plan even work? I'm not sure how much credit to give this guy. On the one hand, he's German (+1 smart point) and worked as a tax inspector (+1 smart point). On the other hand, he joined the circus (-1 smart point), he forked his tongue (-1 smart point) and he implanted his FREAKING mammoth ivory in his mouth!!! (-5 smart points).

I recently spoke with a judge here in the states, to whom I happen to be related, to get his take on the case. Although he was unfamiliar with British law, if he were presiding over a similar settlement in his state, the value of the ivory would count against the assets that Hannibal took from the marriage - so yes, he could keep it, but it's not like he's really coming out ahead when everything is divided up.

I'll try to keep you posted with any follow up stories on this case.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Elephants enjoy a nice "Christmas Treet"

Nature is full of examples of thinking "win-win" with mutualistic symbiotic relationships, such as that of the rhinoceros and the tickbird (also known as an oxpecker, hehehe) or the realtionship between sea anenomes and clown fish. Some of these relationships involve teeth - think of the crocodile and the little bird known as a "plover."

This week I discovered yet another one of natures beautiful mutualistic symbiotic relationships: the Elephant and the post-holiday German family. German zookeepers have a program that helps families dispose of their Christmas trees and at the same time gives the local elephants a special holiday treat. According to the zookeepers, the pine trees are not only a delicacy, but they help clean the elephants' teeth. Each elephant eats up to three Christmas trees per day. A few photos and descriptions can be found at the China Daily.

Pop quiz: How many sets of teeth does an elephant have during its lifetime? The answer can be found after this picture I took during my trip to the zoo last summer.

If you guessed six, step forward and claim your prize! Humans, like most mammals, are diphyodont, meaning we have two sets of teeth. Elephants are unique among mammals. Although they have only one set of tusks, the four large molars used for grinding plants are continually worn down and replaced up to six times throughout the elephant's life. In full-grown elephants, each molar can weigh as much as 9 lbs! Gadzooks! If you had any ambitions to do elephant dentistry, you'd better get some bigger burs. Here I am posing with one of the giant molars. Notice the many roots:

Next time an endo procedure isn't going so well, just remind yourself it could be worse.