It's no secret that out of all the medical professions, dentistry tends to get a bad rap. But who was there when you spit out a piece of molar along with your chewing gum and even fixed you up when your tongue piercing chipped your front tooth? Yeah, your dentist. And while we all have our own dental-related horror stories, it’s pretty much guaranteed that your dentist has seen way worse.
Here, seven dentists share the gnarliest things they've witnessed when leaning over the dental chair. You may want to have your toothbrush handy.
When Things Got Buggy
"A little boy jumped into the dental chair and was actually excited to have his first trip to the dentist. His parents explained to me that he seemed to be rubbing one side of his mouth a lot with his hands. When I looked inside, I noticed his gums were very swollen—and found maggots in the area. After clearing them out, I taught him and his family about proper dental care." —Gary Glassman, D.D.S.
When You Realize Wild Things Are Growin'
"At the beginning of a root canal treatment, I started to clean out the root. Amongst the plaque and tarter, I found some sort of seed lodged in the gums and there looked to be a tiny plant growing out of it. After asking the patient a few questions, I realized it was a tomato seed sprouting a plant." —Glassman
When You Try Not to Vom in Your Patient's Mouth
"An elderly woman came in to have her denture repaired. Dentures are supposed to be taken out and cleaned daily, and it was clear that she hadn't taken hers out in months. The smell of infected gums and rotten food was so rank that my dental assistant had to excuse herself to throw up." —Anonymous
When You Think Nothing Bad Happens from Skipping the Floss
"Most of my dental horror stories come from one simple category: neglect. For example, tartar and plaque build-up [can be] so severe that it forms a bridge between the teeth (known as a calculus bridge). I've seen teeth just fall out because once the build-up was removed, there was nothing to keep them in place." —Joel Smith, D.D.S.
When You Thought You'd Be In and Out of the Office
"When I was doing a routine extraction, my patient's jaw freakishly broke in half. She had to have her mouth wired shut for two months." —Anonymous (Get strong from the inside out with the Total Health Turnaround Book.)
When You Don't Want To Explain What's Spilling Into Your Patient's Mouth
"One patient of mine had an abscess so big that it spanned the entire half of his jaw. Another patient had one that needed to be drained, and his mouth was flooded with pus when I poked it. It was one of the grossest experiences ever." —Dr. Stephanie, D.D.S. (last name withheld)
When You're Not Sure How It Got This Bad
"A patient opened her mouth and all that was left of her teeth were black nubs." —Dr. Stephanie
When You Hope This Person Never Gets A Cold
"I've seen a lot in my 20-plus years as a dentist, but the worst case of periodontal disease I've ever seen involved a woman who's teeth were being held in place by her calculus bridge. Once I removed the tartar and plaque, her teeth were practically dangling and literally moved when she breathed. One good sneeze and her front teeth would've been history." —Anonymous
When Facial Hair Gets In the Way
"During my first gig as a dental assistant, I was helping with a filling when I spotted an ant in our patient's mouth. The dentist and I soon realized that the patient's beard was full of bugs. It took everything we had to play it cool and act like everything was normal." —Anonymous