Dec. 29, 2011 at 9:52 AM ET
Not much good can happen when you send a bare foot smashing into someone's jaw. But during a summer beach brawl, a kick to the face caused one man to get part of his opponent's tooth stuck in his right foot.
Published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, this case is the first to report a tooth "traumatically implanted in the foot."
The case describes a 29-year-old Croatian man who came to the hospital emergency room complaining of swelling and severe pain in his right foot. At first, he claimed he had stepped on a piece of glass while walking on the beach.
The man had a wound on the sole of is right foot in the gap of skin between his third and fourth toe. When doctors x-rayed the foot, they didn't find a shard of glass but saw "an opaque object" that resembled a human tooth.
So, they questioned the patient again and this time he came clean.
He admitted that two weeks earlier he had been involved in a fight with another guy on the beach. He had been wearing flip-flops but they flew off during the scuffle as he kicked his opponent in the jaw with his right foot.
That strike to the jaw broke off one of his opponent's teeth, which then embedded itself beneath the man's right foot.
Ten days after the brawl when pus from the wound started to ooze out, the man went to see his doctor about his injury. But he didn't fess up to the fight, and his doctor cleaned the wound and prescribed an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection.
When the pain did not let up, he headed to the emergency room and that's when the tooth was discovered. The doctors decided to surgically remove it because the skin had developed an abscess.
"We consider all foreign body puncture wounds to be 'dirty,' " says Zenon Pogorelić, MD, the case study lead author and a pediatric surgeon at the University Hospital Split in Split, Croatia. Dr. Pogorelić removed the tooth from the patient's foot, and says that because human saliva contains nearly 200 different species of micro-organisms, this can also increase a person's risk for infection.
From the looks of it, the surgeon's suspect the tooth was an incisor from the front part of his opponent's mouth.
Stepping on toothpicks, sewing needles, glass, metal, and insect stingers are the most common objects to cause deep cuts to the sole of the foot. Finding a human tooth there is a rarity, although the medical literature describes unusual cases where a tooth has been found in the tongue, throat, sinuses, and ear canal.
The wound eventually healed, and "the patient returned to his regular activities 15 days after the operation." Let's hope those regular activities didn't include putting his foot into another person's mouth.
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