Accidentally Swallowing a Toothbrush Is “Impossible”? Impossible!

mouth opened wide

Speaking of toothbrushes…and weirdness…

Did you see the one about the guy who had 18 toothbrushes – and a lot of other odds and ends – surgically removed from his stomach?

If you’re squeamish, don’t watch.

But wait! There’s more!

Dr Anton Emmanuel, a consultant gastroenterologist at University College London Hospitals, and spokesperson for the British Society of Gastroenterology, said it is impossible to swallow a toothbrush accidentally.

Actually, it is possible. Unlikely. But possible.

Even the Mail itself – that paragon of fine journalism – ran a story earlier this month about an Indian boy who was “unsure” of how he swallowed a six inch long toothbrush and “might not have told his parents [about it] out of fear.”

Most often, though – according to Dr. Emmanuel – in a case like the one in the video above, there’s a “psychiatric disorder” at work.

You don’t say…

Read more about the strange things people have swallowed over at TechWorm.

Image by ben dalton, via Flickr

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A Simple Toothbrush at the Middle of It All

toothbrush in shadowThough the standard advice is to never (ever, ever, ever, ever) share your toothbrush, some people will do it anyway. One British survey, for instance, found that 24% would share with their partner (6% with a celebrity). Another found that almost one in 10 had shared their brush with someone.

Everybody, all together now: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeew!

Which brings us to a very weird news item we stumbled across the other day under the headline “Nigerian Kills Friend Over Toothbrush.”

The police have apprehended a 26 year old Nigerian for allegedly stabbing his compatriot over a used toothbrush.

The suspect identified as Marvelous Okere-Son allegedly took the toothbrush of the deceased person Sunday Organ to brush his teeth but never returned it, resulting in a fight.

Marvelous in anger took an empty wine bottle, broke it and stabbed the head and back of the victim.

We have sooooooooooo many questions!

Was the thieving the thing and the toothbrush just incidental? Did Marvelous take the “don’t share” message much too severely? Or maybe he just really loved his toothbrush.

Regardless, he’s been charged with murder.

As for toothbrush-sharing and other ways not to use it, check out this.

Image by Jeremy Brooks, via Flickr

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Recommended Reading: 7 Longreads on What We’re Doing to Food & What Food Is Doing to Us

  • person reading a tabletModern Industrial Foods & Their Effects on the Human Body
    What’s modern farming doing to our food? This recent article from the Natural Medicine Journal explores the health impact of modern interventions commonly used in the food industry – GM crops, pesticides, drugs, additives – and the benefits of opting for organic.
  • Junk Food Is Bad for Plants, Too
    From Nautilus, more about industrial agriculture’s impact on the quality of the food it produces – how the trade-off for high yield is a lower nutritional profile.
  • The Sugar Conspiracy
    Before there was Robert Lustig, there was John Yudkin and his message of the damage that refined sugar does to the human body. This excellent article from the Guardian tells the history of sugar science and how so many of “the world’s top nutrition scientists got it so wrong for so long.”
  • How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution
    Another smart piece from Nautilis – this, on how the standard American diet has wreaked havoc on the human microbiome and what that means for the future of human health.
  • Farm to Fable
    This series of articles from the Tampa Bay Times looks for the truth behind food claims such as “organic,” “local,” and “farm to table.” Part 1 deals with restaurants, while Part 2 looks at farmers’ markets. Though the findings are specific to the Tampa area, their lessons no doubt apply throughout the US. The series also includes a helpful consumer guide to figuring out if your “local” food really is local.
  • Eat No Evil
    What does it mean to eat ethically? In this thoughtful piece for GQ, Alan Richman describes his month-long journey “from perfectly sustainable farm to perhaps unsustainable sea,” meeting the people striving to produce food “that meets whatever definition of ethical eating they have embraced.”
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What Do Patients Think About Dental Implants?

“Have you ever seen this stat before?” Dr. V recently asked, showing us an image he’d recently seen on Facebook.

A survey conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology found that over 70 percent of respondents reported being “pleased” or “extremely satisfied” with the results of their dental implants.

dental implant x-rayConsidering the relationship between implants and chronic illness – and as Dr. Doug Swartzendruber has put it, “Anything implanted into bone will create an autoimmune challenge. The only difference is the length of time it takes for a disease to appear.” – we wonder what the other 30% might have to say about the matter.

Another funny thing: The web page this stat comes from is ostensibly on “Dispelling Myths About Gum Disease”, yet it perpetuates some of its own. For instance, their claim that “dental implants have a 98 percent success rate” is belied by findings published in the Journal of Dental Research. As Dr. Bicuspid reported,

“Evidence exists that the loss rate of implants is higher than that of natural teeth in clinically well-maintained patient,” they wrote.

* * *

“Based on the critical evaluation of published data and methods used in clinical studies, reported outcome rates for implants may be greatly inflated….”

In addition, the researchers found a lack of funding disclosures in 63% of industry-sponsored implant trials, while 66% had a risk of bias. The authors warned against using a success or survival rate of more than 95% for implants as a promotional tool….” [emphasis added]

Which brings us to an interesting study on patient “perceptions and expectations” about dental implants, published last month in Clinical Oral Implants Research. Among their findings was the fact that while almost 63% of participants felt they were generally informed about implants, less than 20% – 17.7, to be exact – “felt confident with the information they had.”

If you’re not sufficiently informed about a procedure, how could you possibly give informed consent?

The study also noted that about one third of participants “appeared to maintain dangerous misperceptions” about implants. Earlier research has noted this, as well. Among the “misperceptions” noted in this study:

  • Dental implants require less care than natural teeth. (FACT: They require special care.)
  • Treatment with dental implants is appropriate for all patients with missing teeth. (FACT: They’re not. Our position is that they’re never appropriate due to their tendency to become oral foci. But even conventional dentistry holds that bone density, pre-existing health conditions, and lifestyle factors may make implants a bad choice for some people.)
  • Treatments with dental implants have no risks or complications. (FACT: Every surgical procedure carries some degree of risk.)

It’s not hard to see how such misconceptions can arise from the way implants are marketed. Constantly, we’re told they’re “the best option for replacing natural teeth,” that they “look and work just like natural teeth,” that placing them is a snap. Heck, there’s even a website called “Implants for Everyone” (beware the flashing graphics).

What you don’t hear so much about are the potential drawbacks and limitations.

And again, if you don’t know that, how can you possibly give informed consent? Informed consent depends upon your awareness of both benefits and risks, as well as treatment alternatives – including the option of no treatment at all.

As health care continues to be treated as a consumer good rather than a support for your well-being, the more crucial it becomes that you become fully informed about your options. If a doctor doesn’t provide the info spontaneously, you need to ask: How will this help me? What are the risks? Are there other ways of achieving the same goal? Will I need to do anything special after treatment to maintain the benefits you say it will give me?

It’s your right to get the answers you seek.

After all, it’s your mouth and body. After all, you are the author of your own health and well-being.

Image by DRosenbach, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fluoridation in Action

The ADA:

The American Dental Association unreservedly endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay.

The CDC:

Fluoridation of community drinking water is a major factor responsible for the decline in dental caries (tooth decay) during the second half of the 20th century. The history of water fluoridation is a classic example of clinical observation leading to epidemiologic investigation and community-based public health intervention. Although other fluoride-containing products are available, water fluoridation remains the most equitable and cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of most communities, regardless of age, educational attainment, or income level.

* * *

Water fluoridation is especially beneficial for communities of low socioeconomic status.

A recent report on the state of California’s “dental safety net”:

California faces an “epidemic of tooth disease in which toddlers by the thousands have mouthfuls of cavities, children and adults are plagued with toothaches, whole counties have no Denti-Cal providers and families don’t understand basic preventative dental care,” the report said.


On actual prevention

And more

Image by Suzanne Hamilton, via Flickr

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Best. Toothbrush. Ever?

We don’t often write about, let alone recommend, specific products on this blog.

But sometimes a product impresses us so much, we can’t imagine not telling you about it.

Case in point, a new toothbrush that was recently recommended to us by a couple of periodontists Dr. V knows through one of his study clubs.

Meet the Nimbus:

Nimbus toothbrush

There are a few things that make this periodontist-developed brush special, starting with its extremely soft fibers. Think of a softness like fleece. Or velour. Or, as its name suggests, think of fluffy white clouds.

Because the fibers are so soft and the extra long bristles gently surround your teeth, even as they reach down far enough to clean hard-to-reach spots. Meantime, the shorter, fine support bristles help remove plaque effectively.

All together, these qualities make it the perfect brush especially for folks dealing with issues like gum disease, gum recession, and tooth sensitivity. More than one person has mentioned that they actually look forward to brushing again just as soon as they’re done – the brush is that comfortable. Considering how critical regular hygiene is to preventing both decay and periodontal disease, this is no mean perk.

Priced about the same as other manual toothbrushes, Nimbus brushes can be bought directly from the manufacturer. Both adult and child sizes are available.

Give ’em a try and see what you think – and then let us know in the comments!

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Putting the Gum Disease-Cancer Link into Perspective

chronic periodontitisIf you smoke, you’re pretty much guaranteed gum disease. And, of course, your risk of a whole host of chronic, systemic illnesses soars.

But just because you’re a nonsmoker, your gums don’t necessarily get a free pass. Despite smoking rates dropping for decades now, periodontal disease remains a problem for as much as 75% of the adult population.

We have poor diet, chronic stress, insufficient sleep, and other new norms of modern lifestyles to thank for that.

And it’s far more than just a dental problem. For decades now, science has sussed out its relationship with many other health problems marked by inflammation – for instance, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer.

Earlier this year, a study in Annals of Oncology offered some numbers that put the perio-cancer relationship into perspective. Data from nearly 20,000 men who had never smoked was gathered across 26 years total. Analysis showed “a 2.5-fold increase in smoking-related cancers among never smokers.” Though gum disease wasn’t linked with the three most common cancers among participants,

a 33% increase in risk was observed for smoking-related cancers (lung, bladder, oropharnygeal, esophageal, kidney, stomach and liver cancers…).

And for those with advanced periodontitis? There was a 45% increase in the risk of developing any kind of cancer.

Need another reason to work harder on keeping gum disease in check?

Image by Parveen Chopra, via Flickr

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