Fillers Two memorable patients

Teaching myself lessons

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 16 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:414
  1. D W Sarll, retired consultant in dental public health

    In the 1950s we scaled and cleaned teeth mainly by hand—ultrasonic scalers and efficient aspirators of particulate matter and spray had yet to appear. We dislodged calculus and plaque from tooth surfaces manually and completed cleaning with paste, rotating brushes, and rubber cups. Operators sometimes impelled this bacteria-laden mixture into their own eyes, and after one such event my right eye became inflamed; it led to lesson one.

    Salt eyebaths did not help, and, although a dentist who treats himself has a fool for a patient, I prescribed more radical care for myself. Thus, when everyone had gone home, I locked the doors in case the cleaners came early, drew the curtains, and injected penicillin into my left quadriceps. Repeating the process on following days cured the …

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