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Tooth and Teeth Research Review

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

(Image credit: dozenist)

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff

Neiburger Knows: Bad Finger, Bad Tooth
“A Severed Finger for a ‘Very Bad Toothache,’ ” Ellis J. Neiburger, New York State Dental Journal, vol. 67, no. 5, 2001, p. 36.

Neiburger Knows: Tooth Dust and Asthma Triggers
“Is Tooth Enamel Dust an Asthma Stimulus?” Ellis J. Neiburger, Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, and Oral Pathology, vol. 78, no. 1, July 1994, p.3.

Neiburger Knows: The Teeth of Man-Eaters
“The Man-Eaters with Bad Teeth,” Ellis J. Neiburger and B.D. Patterson, New York State Dental Journal, vol. 66, no. 10, December 2000, pp. 26–9.

Two cases of man-eating lions feeding on large numbers of humans are discussed. The forensic dental evidence from the lions’ remains and eyewitness reports indicate all three lions had serious dental/oral pathology, which may have contributed to their selection of human food over more challenging natural animal prey.

(Image credit: Brocken Inaglory)

Supernumerary Nipples (Polythelia) and Tooth Cusp Number
“An Association Between Supernumerary Nipples (Polythelia) and Tooth Cusp Number,” T. Heikkinen, L. Alvesalo, and R.H. Osborne, Aspects of Dental Biology: Paleontology, Anthropology and Evolution (ed. J. Moggi-Cecchi), International Institute for the Study of Man, Florence, Italy, 1995, pp. 347–53. (Thanks to David Frayer for bringing this to our attention.)

Typing with Tooth-Clicking
“Typing with Eye-Gaze and Tooth-Clicks,” Xiaoyu Amy Zhao, Elias D. Guestrin, Dimitry Sayenko, Tyler Simpson, Michel Gauthier, and Milos R. Popovic, Proceedings of the Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications, 2012, pp. 341–4.

In eye-gaze-based human-computer interfaces, the most commonly used mechanism for generating activation commands (i.e., mouse clicks) is dwell time (DT). While DT can be relatively efficient and easy to use, it is also associated with the possibility of generating unintentional activation commands—an issue that is known as the Midas’ touch problem. To address this problem, we proposed to use a “tooth-clicker” (TC) device as a mechanism for generating activation commands independently of the activity of the eyes.

Passage of Time Might Lead to Postmortem Tooth Loss
“Factors Affecting Postmortem Tooth Loss,” Marija Ðuric, Zoran Rakocevic, and Hugh Tuller, Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 49, no. 6, November 2004, pp. 1313–8. (Thanks to Perry Horwich for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Belgrade, report:

The results of the study indicate that postmortem interval significantly influences the PMTL [Postmortem Tooth Loss]. Even a one year longer postmortem time for soft tissue decomposition resulted in higher frequency of PMTL.

Mouth Off, Colorfully
“Pink Teeth of the Dead: II. Minor Variations,” C.W. van Wyk, Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology, vol. 6, no. 2, December 1988, pp. 35–42. (Thanks to B.K. Wilderblad for bringing this to our attention.)

Getting Older Might Lead to Kids’ Improved Toothbrushing
“Toothbrushing Ability is Related to Age in Children,” John H. Unkel, Sanford J. Fenton, G. Hobbs Jr, and Cathryn L. Frere, ASDC Journal of Dentistry for Children, vol. 62, no. 5, September–October 1995. (Thanks to Ron Josephson for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Tennessee, explain:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether age could be a predictor for toothbrushing ability in children. This study evaluated the brushing patterns of 122 children utilizing the horizontal scrub technique. The results obtained suggest that a child’s age is a reasonable predictor for toothbrushing ability.

Emotional Effects of Tooth Loss
“The Emotional Effects of Tooth Loss: A Preliminary Quantitative Study,” D.M. Davis, J. Fiske, B. Scott, and D.R. Radford, British Dental Journal, vol. 188, 2000, pp. 503–6. (Thanks to Ig Nobel Prize winner Chitteranjan Andrade for bringing this to our attention.) The authors write:

Conclusion. The impact that tooth loss can have on people and their lives should not be underestimated.

In Search of the Elusive Tooth Worm
“The Tooth-Worm: Historical Apsects of a Popular Belief,” W.E. Gerabek, Clinical Oral Investigations, vol. 3, no. 1, April 1999, pp. 1–6. The author, at Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany, writes:

The concept of a tooth-worm, which according to popular belief, caused caries and periodontitis, has existed in diverse cultures and across the ages. During the Enlightenment, however, the theory of the tooth-worm was assigned by medical doctors almost exclusively to superstition. Even so, the idea that toothache was caused by gnawing worms held on even into this century. There were many different ideas with regard to the appearance of toothworms. In England, for instance, it was thought that the tooth-worm looked like an eel. In Northern Germany, people supposed the tooth-worm to be red, blue, and gray and in many cases the worm was compared to a maggot. The gnawing worm was held responsible for many evils and, in particular, was blamed for toothache provoked by caries. The question is discussed of how the belief in the existence of the tooth-worm in former times can be explained. In popular medicine, numerous therapies were applied in order to eradicate the tooth-worm. In addition to the fumigations with henbane seeds, which allowed the “tooth-worm” to develop in the form of burst seeds, there were also magical formulas and oaths.

Urine-Derived Teeth
“Generation of Tooth-Like Structures from Integration-Free Human Urine Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells,” Jinglei Cai, et al., Cell Regeneration, vol. 2, no. 6, 2013.


The article above is from the January-February 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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