Something you might see every day: babies and toddlers exploring their world by putting stuff in their mouths.
Something you don’t see every day:
Yes, it was stuck there, lodged firmly between the three year old’s lower front teeth – so firmly that his mother rushed him to emergency care to have it removed. She described him as
one of the kids that you have to watch. He’s very curious and big into screwdrivers, anything electric.
Fortunately, medics were able to remove the coin quickly and without any notable complications. That ease might explain why it’s tough to find similar cases in the dental literature.
In searching, though, you do find quite a few of reports of another odd dental problem that’s usually encountered by older (6 to 12 year old) kids: foreign objects found embedded in teeth. According to a paper published last year in the Journal of Contemporary Dentistry,
Foreign objects which have been implanted into the [root] canal
by the patients have varied from staple pins, paper clip, nail, metal screw, sewing needle to minute hand of a watch, beads, plastic chopsticks, incense sticks, etc.
Yes. Plastic chopsticks. Plus pencil leads, darning needles, hat pins, dress maker pins, straws and a “conical metallic object,” according to another paper. Here’s just a sample of case reports:
- Unusual foreign body detected on routine dental radiograph (Archives of Disease in Childhood)
- Unusual habit ending as a foreign lodgment: A report of case series (Journal of Cranio-Maxillary Diseases)
- Foreign body in root canals of two adjacent deciduous molars: A case report (International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry)
- An unusual object in the root canal of a primary tooth – a case report (International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry)
- Staple diet: A foreign body in a tooth (International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry)
- Unusual objects in the root canal of deciduous teeth: A report of two cases (Contemporary Clinical Dentistry)
And just how in the heck do these things happen? According to Grover, Thomas and Pai in the first paper cited above,
These foreign objects are usually seen in wide open canals that have been exposed either due to caries or trauma or iatrogenically kept open for draining.
And as their study shows, it’s not just a problem for kids. Here, it stemmed from the adult patient’s habit of using metal objects to remove debris from an exposed pulp chamber. Other times, it may stem from using teeth as tools or just idly (or inadvertently) chewing on something very small, hard and sharp or something that breaks off.
And yes, the damage can be repaired. And it serves as a reminder: Be kind to your teeth (and help children develop the habit of treating theirs with the same respect).
Image via Independent.ie