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30 May 2001
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Teeth `constant source of infection'--doctor

30 May, 2001—When Christchurch student Matt Powell went to the doctor last night, he received an unexpected diagnosis which has stunned and perplexed his friends and family.

[image]
(a) a molar, and (b) a wisdom tooth. Note how the wisdom tooth protrudes above the gumline, inevitably leading to infection

Powell had been complaining of pain in his inner ear, and a slight headache. Having an examination the next day, he decided to visit a 24-hour medical centre for a checkup.

“I was pretty sure I had an ear infection,” said Powell, whose diagnosis was confirmed by his younger sister, who suffers from chronic ear infections.

However, when the doctor examined him, she found no evidence of infection in the ear.

“She said my ears were normal, my pulse and temperature were fine, and all that stuff. She did say my glands were up, but my glands are up all the time. Then she took a look in my mouth, and she started going on about my teeth.”

The eventual diagnosis was that Powell's wisdom teeth, which were protruding slightly above the gumline, were “channelling infection” back down inside his jaw, causing swelling of the glands and relayed pain in the jaw, ear and head.

“She said that teeth that protrude above the gumline like that are a ‘constant source of infection’,” said Powell. “It kinda left me wondering about all my other teeth. They stick out of my gums as well.”

The unknown doctor recommended that Powell take paracetamol until such time as he could afford to have the teeth removed. However, he is not placing much stock in her diagnosis.

“She said my lower left wisdom tooth wasn't giving me any problems, which was good, 'cause I've already had it taken out,” said Powell. “Now I come to think about it, she seemed to be bluffing her way through the consultation, really. It took her three goes to switch on that little thing they poke in your ears to have a look around. Even I could see the big green power switch on the front of the box.”

Meanwhile, Powell sat his exam this morning in relative comfort, thanks to the restorative powers of codeine and chocolate. With two exams to go, he is currently pursuing an aegrotat for impaired performance. :.

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