Friday, December 17, 2010

Serious Saliva

One of the wonders of nature is the variety of ways in which different species develop defense mechanisms in the evolutionary battle for survival.  At least three creatures in particular have adapted the ability to attack using their saliva:  Cats, Komodo Dragons, and the NBA's Wilson Chandler. 


This is Dewey, being shown a little too much affection by my boy Sam.  Judging from the picture, you would expect Sam to be Dewey's biggest threat, right?  Surprisingly they get along fine.  You could even say they LOVE each other.  The other cats in the neighborhood, however, are not so fond of their newest rival.  A few weeks ago we heard a commotion in the front yard and the next day Dewey's front leg swelled to about 3 times it's normal size.  We learned from the veterinarian that cat bites can be quite vicious.  In fact, 80% of people who are cat-bitten will become infected!

Komodo Dragons

This animal may very well have more biodiversity in the oral cavity than any other creature out there.  It certainly has the most virulent strains of bacteria, causing immediate sepsis in bite victims.  Somehow the Komodo dragon remains unharmed from the bacteria in it's own mouth, but how it does this is still unknown. Just know that if you ever find yourself confronted by one of these bad boys, don't let it bite you.

Wilson Chandler of the New York Knicks

Recently, Wilson Chandler and David Lee found themselves fighting for a rebound when Lee extracted Chandler's tooth #8 using his elbow.  As you can see, at first glance it appears that David Lee came out ahead in the exchange:

However, a few days later David Lee was informed that his elbow was infected and the doctors were struggling to find the right antibiotics to combat the specific strain of bacteria.  (Did I ever mention that there is a greater variety of bacteria in the mouth than anywhere else in the human body?)  The situation was serious enough that he was at risk of losing his triceps and, of course, ending his career!  Lee described the ordeal to a local radio station:

This injury went from something that I thought was going to be a two-day situation to all of a sudden they were saying “we might have to cut your triceps muscle and you’re never going to play again” to “you’re fine”. It was a very scary situation, and I learned how serious infection can be.
It got to the point where they said if we can’t find the right antibiotics to counter the bacteria that you’re going to have to start getting things cut out of your arm, and you may never have the same arm to play basketball again.

Scary stuff!  You know what's also scary?  The picture of his elbow recovering from the injury.  Kids, remember to wear your mouthguards - not just for your own safety but for that of your opponent!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kissing Catastrophe

Here's a great story to keep in mind while your cheeks are nice and rosy and you're getting comfy and cozy this holiday season!  Being a dental professional, it's no surprise that news items related to kissing show up on my radar from time to time.  A few years ago in Romania a couple was experimenting with a "special type of passionate kiss" and the woman accidentally swallowed her lover's dentures!  Also, every so often there will be a news story claiming how kissing is either good or bad for your teeth.  (Personally, I think your dental health shouldn't really be a deciding factor when deciding whether or not to kiss somebody).

However, this week's story takes the cake.  A 57 year old woman from Sheboygan (you love this story already, don't you?) had been behaving a little oddly lately, according to her 79 year old husband.  Apparently it went down like this:  Karen Lueders was sitting on the toilet when husband Willard walked in the bathroom.  Naturally, the husband leaned down for a kiss.  I mean really, she's on the toilet, who wouldn't be in the mood for a little romance, right? I know you want a little help picturing the situation, so, here's Karen:

So there they are, she on the potty, he standing near her, they begin their little kiss and things start heating up (of course, why wouldn't they?).  She gets a little frisky, when all of a sudden she decides to take the freaky to a whole new level and bites off his freaking tongue! 

The poor romantic fellow then found some gauze to stop the bleeding and called the police, who arrived to find Karen doing exactly what you would expect her to be doing in this situation - singing Christmas carols and blowing into a New Year's horn.  One of the officers (probably not a very romantic one) had no idea what was going on so he asked what sort of assistance was needed.  The result?  She blew the fancy horn in his ear and threw a coffee cup at the police.  

The result of this all is that Karen is currently charged with felony mayhem that has to do with intention to mutilate or disfigure.  At this point all we know about poor Willard's condition is that he was sent to the hospital with his severed tongue where doctors worked to reattach it. 

The full, sad, scary story can be found at the Sheboygan Press.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Dental Ninja vs Santa Claus

Last week I met a new patient who, as it turns out, was actually a very familiar old friend. Upon meeting him I discovered he was a nice jolly elderly man with a long white beard. A younger dental ninja would have recognized him immediately, his street clothing notwithstanding.  Yet in my present condition as a grown-up, I didn't realize who he was until he informed me that he would be seeing many children at the mall during the next few weeks and that he didn't want a toothache to keep him from this vital task.

While waiting for Santa to get numb, I made casual conversation and mentioned how excited my sons would be to hear that not only did I see him, but I actually fixed his tooth! Also, it wouldn't hurt to name-drop and let it be known that our dental practice serves such high-profile clientele.

Once Kris Kringle was good and numb I got to work removing the root of his mandibular canine. The adjacent teeth had enough gum disease that I thought it wise to attempt the extraction without elevating (using the other teeth for leverage). My plan worked beautifully except for one small hiccup - I had such a firm grip on the forceps that once the root was sufficiently "loose" it slipped out of the forceps, came flying out of his mouth, and ricocheted off my chest and leg before coming to rest on the floor!

The good news was that I had removed Santa's tooth, and he was on his way to a speedy recovery and a holiday season free of dental pain. The bad news was that I now found myself sitting there with Santa's blood on my light blue scrubs, and I still had a few more patients that day (including some little kids).  Luckily the extraction happened so quickly that I had plenty of time to go home and change.

On the way home I couldn't help but feel like the worst super-villain around. Think about it, if you saw some guy walking around with a bloody shirt you would wonder, but if you knew that the blood belonged to St. Nicholas? Yeah, pure evil.  Thus is the plight of the dentist - willfully enduring the label of the bad guy when his only intention is to help others.  When you get your Christmas presents on time this year, along with Santa Claus, you can thank your dental ninja. 

PS, I realize that by naming Santa Claus in this post I am in clear violation of HIPPA, so Santa, if you're reading this, all I want this year is for you to not sue me for sharing your private health information.  Well, that and a Red Ryder BB gun.