Did you hear the one about the spider eggs hatching in a man’s ear? We’ve all heard urban legends about cringe-worthy flora and fauna growing in the human body. But what about the mouth? With all of the attention we pay to our mouths when we eat, drink, and talk, surely our oral cavity wouldn’t play host to anything more gross than your standard plaque and tartar. A person would notice before things got bad, right?
Unfortunately not. Although it is rare, our mouths aren’t immune to this type of horror story. For an all-call on weird things that grow in the mouth, we took to the community at Reddit. As usual, they delivered.
The Kid Who Grew Salad Toppings Between His Teeth
This first one comes to us from Reddit user asbohorror, whose dentist friend was kind enough to text him a picture documenting the highlight of his day.
“A friend of mine is dentist. He sent me a photo of a kid’s teeth with a sprout from a seed stuck [in between two of his teeth] for who knows how long.”
It is highly unlikely you will ever sprout a seed in your own mouth, but it is possible. As anyone who participated in elementary school science lessons knows, a seed begins to sprout in a matter of days if it is kept warm and wet.
In fact, the enzymes found in saliva might actually help that little seed out on it’s way to germination. The enzyme known as amylase exists in your saliva to break down starches in the foods you eat, turning them into easier-to-digest sugars. During germination, many types of seeds secrete...you guessed it: amylase enzyme.
So the enzymes in your saliva could, in theory, help a seed break down and sprout faster. Go figure.
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I Feel Like Chicken Tonight! Like Chicken Tonight!
Reddit user C-O-N, a dental nurse, weighed in with a story of finding less-than-savory leftovers in a patient’s mouth.
“We once pulled a bit of old rotting chicken out from under somebody's implant denture. It smelled like [something we probably shouldn’t name here.]”
If you have implants, you aren’t off the hook for proper dental care.
Getting food stuck in dental implants, AKA crowns, is actually fairly common, and it can usually be fixed with a good brush and floss. But if food gets wedged tightly between the implant and your gums, this becomes more serious. Signs of trouble include inflammation and pain, especially when you bite down. As always, call your dentist if you notice inflammation or pain.
We can only assume this is what happened to the rotting chicken found by our dental nurse friend. Obviously her patient didn’t heed our advice to hightail it to his dentist before things got bad.
A Mount St. Helens Eruption in the Mouth
User judyduty tells of a dentist friend whose patient had an abscess so large, the result was a virtual lava flow of pus.
“I dated a dentist. He was telling me about a patient that had an abscess so large that when he lanced it, there was a volcano eruption of pus coming out of his mouth.”
Abscessed teeth are painful, dangerous, and yes, they are essentially mini-volcanoes of pus.
A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the teeth, gums, or surrounding bone because of a bacterial infection. This happens when bacteria enters your tooth through a cavity, when your gums are compromised by periodontal disease, or when a foreign object like a popcorn hull gets embedded in your gums.
There are a few ways dentists treat abscesses. Lancing an abscess, which Reddit user judyduty describes, involves making a small cut to drain the pus. The larger the abscess, the more pus available to flow out like lava
An abscess is painful and serious. Pain often radiates from the mouth up to the jaw and ears. When left unchecked, a dental abscess becomes life threatening, so it shouldn’t be ignored until it reaches Mount St. Helens proportions.
And the Winner is…Larvae
Yep. I saved the best for last. This gem was shared by Reddit user Backfjre, whose girlfriend is a pediatric dentist.
“One day, a mom came in with her son...who has been complaining about his gums hurting...Inside his mouth was an apparently disgusting cyst. One of those nasty pulsing ones that you see in an alien movie when the protagonist gets onto the mother ship and finds the incubation room...They numb the kid, prepare for an incision, and cut away. Out crawls a larvae from the cyst it had been living in.”
The fact is, this one almost made me lose my lunch. We don’t know all of the ins and outs of this case, so we can only make assumptions. But one reason for larvae living in the mouth is oral myiasis.
This is rare, but it happens when a dipterous insect like a gnat or bot’fly lays eggs in a person’s mouth. The insect is attracted by foul odors caused from poor oral hygiene. (Don’t worry, I’m talking seriously poor oral hygiene, like rotting teeth. Not just a little plaque.)
When a person sleeps with their mouth open, the insect deposits its eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the tissues in the mouth, causing swelling, cysts and pain.
The Bottom Line: Don’t Let It Get This Bad
The message here is simple. Don’t make it to the pages of Reddit by becoming a horror story of sprouting seeds, rotting chicken, or fly larvae. And while you are at it, don’t become a lesser horror story of plaque or gingivitis.
Part of your dentist’s job is to check your mouth for anything weird, gross, or painful. So if you notice anything unusual, or if it’s been awhile since you last checkup, call to make an appointment.
Have you ever experienced something strange growing in your mouth? We want to hear from you!
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