The last bite (September)

03 September 2021
2 min read

Masked realisation
The pandemic has changed a lot of things for a lot of us around the world, but an interesting trend noted in Australia is one that I have not as yet seen alluded to here in the UK. Apparently, millions of Australians have admitted to skipping brushing their teeth during lockdown, according to a new survey, which reported that 2.7 million of the down-under citizens cut out this daily hygiene habit whilst stuck at home. As many as 1.9 million people were also only prompted to brush their teeth during lockdown after putting on a mask and smelling their own breath – a rather yukky thought, as Dame Edna Everage might put it.

One in four parents said they were motivated to brush their teeth to be a good role model for kids, whilst men were more likely than women to skip brushing their teeth. Given that Oz has hitherto been hailed as a golden example of handling the corona crisis, it remains to be seen if their oral health will emerge as victorious.

Silly season
I have to say that this summer has been remarkably free of the usual shoal of silly season stories. One which did catch my eye, however, was the widely reported angling tale of a fish with human-like teeth reeled-in in North Carolina.

It was identified as a sheepshead fish, so named for its mouth looking like, you’ve guessed it, that of a sheep, with several rows of molars for crushing prey. Whether reminiscent of our woolly friends or not, the photographs showed a frighteningly human looking set of upper incisors. Mr Martin, who landed the catch, said it had put up a very good fight but tasted very good too. The item failed to reveal the fate of the teeth.

Not a chair
The recently announced death of dental legend Dame Margaret Seward came as a personal as well as professional sadness. Margaret had been a friend, colleague, mentor and inspiration to me over decades, and her passing is the end of an era. Significantly, it also coincided with a study which noted that women are less likely to participate in proceedings at medical and scientific conferences.

Margaret, a founder of the Women in Dentistry movement, was once chairing a conference of dental editors at an FDI Congress that I attended in the 1990s. After the speakers had made their presentations, she opened the discussion to the floor for questions and comments. A male audience member stood up and began by saying ‘I would like to ask through you chair…’ before being forced to sit down again hastily by an onslaught from the said Dame. ‘I am not made of wood, I do not have four legs, nor an upholstered seat’ she informed him. ‘Therefore, I am a chairman or a chairwoman, but not a chair.’ He apologised profusely, and I’ll bet never made the same address again. Thank you Margaret; for everything.