A 41-year-old man from the UK tried to dislodge a piece of popcorn stuck in his teeth with a number of objects, which led to the development of a life-threatening infection that required him to undergo open-heart surgery.
Adam Martin, a firefighter, from England said he noticed the piece of popcorn stuck in a back tooth after he and his wife watched a movie in September.
For 3 days, he was unable to remove the popcorn despite using a number of objects, which includes a pen lid, a toothpick, a piece of wire, and even a metal nail with hopes of removing the popcorn.
As he was trying to remove the food, he damaged his surrounding gum.
One week after the incident, Martin began to suffer from fatigue, night sweats, and headaches, which he initially thought were signs of the flu but would later find out that they were signs of endocarditis, which is the infection of the endocardium.
The infection happens when the bacteria from the mouth, skin, intestines, and other areas of the body.
By October, the symptoms of Martin had yet to subside, which lead him to see his doctor again, who diagnosed him with a mild heart murmur and sent him back home.
But when the symptoms continued to feel unwell, he went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
Martin said, “I had a feeling [that] there was something seriously wrong. I was sleeping an awful lot and I felt terrible.”
He added, “I had aches and pains in my legs and I just did not feel right at all. I was admitted to hospital the same day for tests. By this point, I was very worried.”
Martin continued, “I felt quite ill and I knew I was not right at all.”
Scans of Martin’s chest showed that his heart was damaged due to the infection.
Martin was later moved to a different hospital, where he underwent seven-hour open-heart surgery that repaired his mitral valve and got his aortic valve replaced.
He added, “My heart was not properly working anymore. It was essentially wrecked. The infection had eaten the valves away.”
He continued, “If I had gone to the dentist in the first place then none of this would have happened. At one point it was touch and go. It was the worst experience of my life. I wasn’t far off death’s door and I am extremely lucky. The popcorn stuck in my teeth is the only possible cause I can think of. I am never eating popcorn again that’s for sure.”
He went on, “It’s crazy to think all this happened because of that. It was something so trivial.”
Helen, the 38-year-old wife of Martin, said his husband could have been treated if it had been caught sooner.
Helen said antibiotics could have prevented the surgery.
Helen said, “Any sign of a toothache, bleeding gums, an abscess — get it checked out.”
She added, “Your gums are a bacterial highway to your heart.”