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!

1 comment:

Bradley Bedell said...

Gosh! See how saliva may harm other people! Oh, yeah it's very true that saliva has bacteria, especially if you don't practice proper oral hygiene. There's a chance that you may pass the germs that can cause any disease. That's why proper practice of oral hygiene is very important not only for making your teeth whiter and beautiful, but also to avoid spreading germs.

Bradley Bedell