The five most interesting dental images of the year

Every year, thousands of dental cases are shared on Figure 1, the medical knowledge-sharing app used by a global community of dental professionals. Here are some of our favorite images this year that span across multiple areas of dentistry.


1. The dentist who studied the effects of soft drinks on his own teeth

Dr. Tom Bierman, a dentist at the San Diego Dental Studio, tested the effects of three soft drinks on his own wisdom teeth which had been extracted in his twenties. One tooth was placed in cola, another in a sugar-free energy drink, and a third into a glass of water.

The first tooth, which was left in a glass of cola, was stained dark brown from the caramel coloring found in the soft drink.

The second tooth, which was left in a sugar-free energy drink, had most of its enamel stripped away.

The third tooth was left in a glass of water and saw no change.

While Dr. Bierman noted that the experiment “wasn’t a realistic situation”, another healthcare professional pointed out that she had a “28-year-old male come in with teeth decayed almost to the gum line and in terrible pain thanks to daily consumption of energy drinks and [soft drinks]“.


2. Tartar buildup in a dental-phobic patient

Tartar buildup in dental phobic patient

This image of calculus buildup was posted by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon on Figure 1. The patient (who was dental-phobic) presented with a calculus shelf underneath his tongue. A dental hygienist commented, “A trained eye can see the tissue/gingival erythema and the sub-gingival calculus peeking up. Patient must be so uncomfortable. This is why it is so important to start the children young with positive dental experiences.”


3. The child who was scared of wiggling out her baby teeth

This 10-year-old patient presented with two rows of mixed dentition. The dental hygienist who shared this case described how the child was “scared of wiggling out baby teeth”. Unfortunately, she needed to have the teeth manually extracted by a dentist with further corrective treatment provided by an orthodontist.


4. The 6-year-old who got a Lego stuck on his tooth

This child presented to the emergency department with a plastic block stuck on his tooth. He had been playing with the toy in his mouth when it became stuck. A pedodontist used a handpiece to section the plastic bricks under local anesthesia, and he lost the tooth with it. A nurse replied, “I love kids! Just when your ER call night gets quiet and you are taking a breather…boom…Legos!”


5. A split uvula

This image, uploaded by a dental hygienist, shows a rare bifid uvula, or an uvula that is split into two. Even more interesting—the patient is a triplet and both her siblings share the same condition.

Bifid uvulas occur in approximately 2% of the population. While they normally do not cause any problems, they are sometimes associated with submucous cleft palates. One member of the Figure 1 community commented, “My goal as a dentist is to find one of these”.

Interested in seeing more dental images? Download the free Figure 1 app. Want to see more from Figure 1? How to suture – five tips for medical students learning to close wounds

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