Should my mom put that back in her mouth?
August 12, 2014 9:28 PM   Subscribe

My mother, who is a good person and has a masters degree, accidentally swallowed a temporary bridge. Now she, um, has retrieved it. She wants to know if she can clean it herself (by soaking it in alcohol or something) and pop it back in, without calling the dentist about it, which she doesn't want to do because reasons. However, she's worried that she'll be unable to sterilize it properly and will make herself sick by putting in her mouth something that has been through her digestive tract. She's counting on me, and therefore you, to find out how to clean it properly. Or to tell her there's no way. Anyone?
posted by smoakes to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't use alcohol! My husband tried to super clean his night guard with alcohol and melted it but good! I have no idea if the bridge has the same materials in it as a night guard but I just thought I'd throw that out there... it was an expensive mistake.
posted by sadtomato at 9:37 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: I am not a doctor but I am pretty comfortable putting things in my mouth that have been sterilized with normal methods such as boiling water, rubbing alcohol, iodine, ultraviolet or microwave radiation, etc.

Of course the bridge would have to survive the process.
posted by Phssthpok at 9:37 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would think bleach, perhaps diluted in water and let it soak for a good while. I googled "disinfect poop" to validate my idea and I started to worry about someone seeing my browsing history, so...
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:40 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Boil it. Could she tell the dentist she dropped it on a dirty carpet and ask them how to sterilize?
posted by colin_l at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'd go for bleach and several thorough scrubs with a toothbrush (that you will then toss out).
posted by mochapickle at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2014

Oh god, just have her tell the dentist that she had a terrible stomach ailment and vomited so hard that it fell out into a dirty toilet or something. She picked her teeth out of her poop and suddenly now she's worried about her dignity?

Otherwise what about that fizzy denture cleaning stuff? I wouldn't use anything like bleach or do anything like boiling unless I knew for sure what it was made of.
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 PM on August 12, 2014 [12 favorites]

Anecdotally, my baby lost her pacifier once and when we found it, the cat was sitting with it pressed right up against his butthole. We soaked it in a bleach solution for about an hour and gave it back to her. She did not get sick. I think I used a teaspoon of bleach in a cup of water.
posted by KathrynT at 10:14 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I can assure you your mother is not the first person in this situation. Actually, from my research, the fact that your mom was in a position to retrieve it and not have it perforate her colon or some other such issue, she is ahead of a lot of people.

If it were me, I would use one of those fizzy things, then boil it for about 20 minutes, then another of the dental cleaning fizzy things, then a dip in a glass of bourbon, and then in my mouth. Fwiw, to put it in some sort of context, I believe in the 7 second rule too.
posted by 724A at 10:16 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: a bridge is made of ceramic or ceramic and metal, it's not porous so it can't absorb any germs.
as long as doesn't smell she can probably just rinse it off and put it in her mouth. even so i would probably scrub it with alcohol or Listerine and give it a good rinse before putting it back in. maybe even soak it in listerine for an hour or twot. there's nothing that could get on there that would live on it long enough to make anyone sick. i would lay off boiling or bleach in case they damage it somehow.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:16 PM on August 12, 2014

Fizzy denture stuff doesn't sterilize, just clean.

Call the dentist and say she was cleaning it and it slid right out of her hands/got knocked off the rim of the sink and landed in the toilet. Stranger things have happened.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:17 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Haha I have been in a similar situation - a man dropped his dentures into the basin where he had just emptied his colostomy bag. I rinsed them off, scrubbed them REALLY WELL - like, to the point where my wrist was hurting - with plain old toothpaste, then soaked them for awhile in diluted mouthwash. I wouldn't boil them.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:29 PM on August 12, 2014

I dug up a PDF of manufacturer instructions for professional cleaning denture things and they were pretty complicated - disassemble parts and autoclave at various temperatures for X minutes etc. I would go to a dentist, possibly not her regular one if she's embarrassed and use one of the suggestions above for peace of mind.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:42 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: So… what exactly does she think it's got all over it that she isn't already carrying around a kilo or two of?

It's just a bridge, albeit a temporary one. Scrub it in warm soapy water, followed by the usual overnight soak in 1 part peroxide + 2 parts water (or non-5-minute denture cleaner). Rinse it well the next morning - hell, scrub it again if she wishes! - and pop it back in. Tell her to remember the story and use it to remind her grandchildren to practice good dental hygiene.

Now, if it had been someone else who swallowed it…
posted by Pinback at 10:53 PM on August 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Oh FFS, just tell the dentist what actually happened, they've heard much worse. Your gastric tract is full of (admittedly mild) acid which may have compromised the strength of the appliance or perhaps rendered it porous.
posted by epo at 3:04 AM on August 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I use a separate toothbrush and hand soap on my night guard. If she was willing to touch anything with her freshly washed hands after retrieval, she should be able to handle putting the bridge back after brushing it thoroughly with soap.
posted by gingerest at 4:50 AM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: Also, not to be too blunt, but your gut is a tube. Your butt is attached to your mouth. Unless you are infected with a gut pathogen and then recover, anything you can get from your gut is already there. She can worry about what other people put in the toilet that might have contaminated her appliance, but unless she was sick, she can't catch anything from herself.
posted by gingerest at 4:56 AM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: True story:

When my uncle was in dental school he used his family members as test patients. He built a crown for my grandma (his mom), fumbled it during the installation (I'm sure there's a better word for this) and dropped it straight down her throat. He couldn't afford to replace it, so made her sift through her leavings until she found it again. Took that same crown, cleaned it off, put it in her mouth.

Gram is 90 now, and this was almost 30 years ago. That same crown is still in her mouth, going strong, a feat which my uncle the dentist is extremely proud of. EVERYONE hears about the poop crown story. EVERYONE. Everyone at his dental school at the time, everyone my uncle has ever met in life.

My grandma is a person who goes into paroxysms of embarrassment when somebody even so much as says the word fart in public, and she has yet to die of either humiliation or latent poop mouth in all this time.

Please feel free to share this story with your mother so that she'll take it in to her dentist for a proper cleaning and to make sure it still fits properly and hasn't been damaged in any way. I guarantee you the dentist has had this happen to patients before. It's really not a big deal.

A person who pooped out some braces due to an incompetent orthodontist.
posted by phunniemee at 7:23 AM on August 13, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I wouldn't bother asking the dentist. I doubt that this is a subject that's covered extensively in dental school. His opinion is probably no more informed than what you'd find on the Internet.

Myself, I'd use the bridge without any worries, after doing some thorough cleaning with soap & water, followed by soaking in rubbing alcohol. I wouldn't use bleach.
posted by alex1965 at 8:05 AM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: Temporary bridges are usually cemented in, so if it popped loose, it means the cement no longer holds. Consult the dentist immediately. Don't chew on that side until she's able to see the dentist.

You don't want the prepped area to shift (ie teeth on either side of the gap to move inward) because it will mean the permanent bridge won't fit, and you'll have to go through the whole process again.

If it was a traditional or cantilever bridge (where they grind down adjacent teeth to create crowns, and act as anchoring points for the bridge), you do not want food or anything to get between the crown and tooth. There might also be a cavity or something that caused the bridge to loosen in the first place, and the dentist will want to see that. The same would go for Maryland bridges, too, although I'm less familiar with those.

Whether or not the dentist will re-use the temporary bridge is up to them. Most cases, they'll throw it away and re-make a new one.

I don't know the specific reasons your mom doesn't want to consult the dentist, but if they have to do with embarrassment, I'm sure the dentist has heard all kinds of stories. At least, anytime I talk to dentists in my area, there's no shortage of weird, crazy, and unique experiences had by their patients.
posted by CancerMan at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

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