Dentist reveals the EIGHT things patients do that leave them horrified – so how many are you guilty of?
- MailOnline spoke to dentists about things their patients do that horrifies them
- And some will really make your skin crawl, including the slurping retainer sound
- They range from licking the dentist’s fingers to leaving toenails in their mouth
Going to the dentist is a necessity that most people dread.
But for all your dental-related horror stories, you can bet your dentist has seen worse.
MailOnline heard from two dentists about the things their patients do that leave them horrified, and some will really make your skin crawl.
From licking the dentist’s fingers, to leaving toenails in your mouth, here are the grossest things patients do.
Missing the bowl when spitting while mouth is numb
Mouth-numbing is necessary for some procedures such as teeth removal or fillings.
But with numbing comes a lack of control.
Cosmetic dentist Sam Jethwa, of Bespoke Smile in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, says one of his pet hates is when patients miss the bowl while spitting out fluid.
He said: ‘Obviously losing control of the mouth as a result means when we go to have a rinse and spit, we might miss the bowl.
‘A lengthy cleaning process ensues for our assistants but it’s always a head-in-hands moment. For everyone.’
Licking the dentist’s fingers
You read that right, another revolting thing patients do is lick the dentist’s fingers, according to Dr Jethwa.
The tooth doctor, who is also vice president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, said: ‘The non-latex gloves we use are soft compared to traditional old-fashioned ones, but they aren’t for licking.
‘It’s always comical when a patient has an inquisitive tongue and goes in for a lick of the fingers.’
Sharing toothbrushes with your partner
Have you ever forgotten your toothbrush and used your partner’s?
Well, Dr Jethwa says that’s a big ‘no, no’.
He said: ‘Our gum specialist helps people with gum disease and tries to stop them losing their teeth and save them.
‘Obviously part of that is to discuss existing cleaning habits.
‘A few times he has recollected patients mentioning they share a toothbrush with their partner.
‘As much as we might love them – that’s a no, no.’
Dr Ben Atkins, dentist and trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, previously said brushing can make your gum bleed, so by sharing a toothbrush you could be sharing blood.
He added: ‘Brushing sometimes causes the gums to bleed, which exposes everyone you share your toothbrush with to blood stream diseases.
‘There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths and people sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others.
‘While this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if the person you are sharing with is infected with hepatitis B or HIV these could also be passed on via the toothbrush, with severe health consequences.’
Shaking hands after putting them in your mouth
During the pandemic, handshaking went out the window and was replaced by an elbow touch.
This was in attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
But, as with other parts of pre-pandemic life, the practice is creeping back, and Dr Jethwa says it’s made all the worse by patients first putting their hands in their mouth.
He said: ‘Let’s just try to do it with clean hands and not hands that have just been in our mouths.’
Slurping sound from taking out retainers
If you have ever had retainers – as many people did as a teenager – you may recognise this next one.
Dr Jethwa says the noise some patients make when taking out retainers is ‘gross’.
He said: ‘If you’ve had them you’ll know the slurping sound one naturally makes when we take them out in private.
‘That sound I think we can all agree, is pretty gross.’
Leaving things in your mouth (like toenails)
Another toe-curling dentist pet peeve is when patients leave things in their mouth, such as toenails.
Dentist Dr Alan Clarke, clinical director at Paste Dental in Belfast, says he has also found pencil leads, plastic wrappers, a living spider, several flies and chewing gum hidden behind a back tooth.
He said: ‘We always encourage patients to take ownership of their care for both their teeth and gum health which means regular cleaning and flossing (to help eradicate those spiders webs)’ .
Not brushing your teeth
It may seem obvious, but another one of Dr Clarke’s bugbears is when patients never brush their teeth.
He said: ‘We are not talking about missing the night-time brush if you are heading to bed late, or struggling to stay awake after a long day at the office.
‘We are talking about 15-20 years of not brushing, or never brushing – period. Yes, it’s a surprise to us too but we find it quite often.
‘There are lots of things we can do, advise and help with, to encourage optimal dental health, but the journey begins with ownership and patients accepting the vital role they personally play in maintaining their oral health.’
We have all seen tutorials on how to whiten your teeth at home, but ‘DIY dentistry’ goes much further, says the Belfast dentist.
He says he has seen teeth-whitening using household bleach and broken crowns cemented with furniture glue, nail polish and chewing gum.
Dr Clarke said: ‘It’s dangerous, potentially toxic and a significant risk to your health, please consult a registered professional to have safe dental treatment planning and care.
‘We hate to see the damage you can do with minimal knowledge and desperation.’
He once had a patient with gum disease who attempted to glue their tooth back in.
The dentist added: ‘I don’t know whether to be shocked, freaked out or saddened, but I have personally found large lumps of pritt-stick in a patient’s mouth as they thought [don’t try this at home] sure why not stick my loose tooth back in – with a soft white glue.’