We recently asked the dentists and oral hygienists of the BuzzFeed Community to share some of the wildest things they've seen on the job. Here are their secrets and stories:
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, we can't 100% confirm all of these stories, but these people are supposedly speaking from their own experiences as alleged employees.
1. "I once had a patient who had not brushed his teeth in ELEVEN years...ELEVEN years! And we could tell he was not kidding."
2. "Dental assistant here. When we use the high-speed hand piece to drill, your tooth smells like toast."
3. "Dental hygienist here. Once we reopened during the pandemic, I noticed across the board that people are grinding their teeth more and struggling with oral hygiene. I’ve had to tell so many patients that I’m not judging them for 'slacking' (their words, not mine). We’re all in this together!"
4. "Front desk here. I've watched so many pass on treatment because, 'it's not bothering' them. The point of treatment, whether it's your yearly X-rays or a recommended crown, is to ensure that you never get to the point where something IS bothering you..."
"...I understand if you have anxieties or have trouble affording treatment. If you're with a good office, you should be able to be open with office staff and they will find a way to make you comfortable. But I saw way too many patients (no anxieties, plenty of money) pass on recommended treatment and that $1,000 crown progressed to an infection requiring antibiotics and a root canal in addition to the crown for a little over $2,000."
5. "Occasionally I see tattoos inside the lower lip. This week I saw one that said 'C*NT.'"
6. "Hygienist here. I’ve seen many disgusting things in patients' mouths. But at the top of the list: multiple whole FINGERNAILS. 🤢"
7. "Patients engage in a lot of behaviors that they wouldn’t do at another type of doctor's office. Specifically, withholding their medical history. People don’t seem to think a dentist needs to know if you have high blood pressure, a cardiac history, have artificial joints, or if you use drugs. We need to know! If you don’t give up all that information, you could literally die."
8. "Hygienist here. When we tell you that you need to brush and floss better, don’t try saying that you brush and floss every single day, twice a day. We know you haven’t. You can’t pull one over on us."
9. "I've cleaned pubic hairs out from between a patient's teeth twice."
10. "Dentist here. While I was doing my residency, we had a mid-20s patient come in with massive swelling. While asking for medical history/medication/drug use, the patient adamantly said no. When I looked intra-orally, the patient had only root tips left in their mouth, at which point I was certain it was heavy meth use..."
"...Please don’t lie to us, we will most likely know what’s going on. Plus, the more honest you are, the best we can treat you. It’s not like I can call the police on you for illicit drug use."
11. "Dentist here. Please find the time to brush before your appointment. I know a lot of people don’t like to floss, but basic oral hygiene would be nice. I once found a fishbone between a patient’s teeth, and he said he had fish maybe sometime the prior week. 🤢 Also, if you could stop licking my fingers while I’m holding your impression tray, that’d be great. 😅"
12. "People should know that it’s really fucked up to be a no-show for appointments. Many doctors and hygienists get paid on production, meaning they don’t make a salary. They get paid based on the amount of work that they do. So when you just don’t show up, or cancel an appointment 10 minutes before, you’re sending them home to their family with a smaller paycheck that week."
13. "I’m a hygienist. I once had a patient who had cancer of the mandible and had extensive oral surgery that involved grafting. The surgeon took bone from their leg and grafted it into the mandible. The patient grew leg hair IN THEIR MOUTH from the graft! I literally had to trim the hair that grew from their JAW!!! 🤯"
14. "People love to leave their underage children alone in the office while THE CHILD is getting a cleaning, or getting dental work done. Why do people do this? What if there was a medical emergency? What if your kid who’s getting their wisdom teeth pulled under general anesthesia codes in the chair and we need to call 911? We shouldn’t have to put a sign up at the exit saying, 'Stop! Do not leave your underage children here unattended!' And yet, we do!"
15. And lastly, "Trust me when I say we really are not judging your teeth. We know there can be drug addiction, mental health problems, people who grew up not realizing how important dental care is because of the environment they were in. We are here to help!"
Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.