Tooth brush in a teenager’s stomach

A 15-year-old girl in New Zealand came to the emergency department at an Auckland hospital after accidentally swallowing her 19-centimetre toothbrush. The case study was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

According to the author Dinesh Lal, a gastroenterologist who treated the girl, “She was running up some steps with (the) toothbrush in her mouth when she suddenly tripped and fell, pushing most of the brush into her oesophagus… She immediately started choking and her younger brother came to help… Part of the toothbrush was still in the mouth but with apparently a very strong gag reflex she swallowed this down before it could be pulled out.”

An X ray could not detect the toothbrush but surgeons were able to spot it lodged in the girl's stomach using an endoscopic camera lowered down her throat under general anaesthesia. The doctors used the medical snare at the end of the tube like device to grasp the bristle end of the 7.5 inch (19cm) toothbrush and pull it back out through her mouth. There was no internal damage and the girl was able to go home the same day. Speaking from India, where he is doing volunteer work, Lal said the team of six medical experts took just 10 minutes to remove the brush. He said: “There was a danger that she could have suffered internal injuries while we were removing the toothbrush, but it was successful.”

Dr. Lal warns, “In summary, walking or running around with a toothbrush in the mouth is potentially dangerous.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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