The Most Interesting Tattoo in the World?

As a dentist in private practice, I’ve seen my fair share of crazy and interesting things. I’ve seen cases of horrible gum disease, scars from sucking fentanyl patches, disastrous attempts at people doing dentistry on themselves, and many other things. I’d thought I had seen almost everything. That was until this patient walked in the door:

Beer tatoo on the lip seen at the dentist

Beer tattoo on his lower lip. Clicking on the image will show a larger version in all of its glory! Image copyright Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra.

As you can see by the facial hair, this was obviously a male – at least we would hope it is a male!

beer tatoo seen at the dentist on the inside lip

View of the tatoo looking down (which is why “beer” is upside down).

In talking with him in my dental office about his tattoo, it was clear that he was both simultaneously proud and ashamed of it. He loved showing it to me and my entire staff  – and to a couple of my other patients too! He enthusiastically gave a long and detailed description of how it was done, when it was completed, and who did it. It was clear this was one of his favorite stories to tell.

But then he confessed in an almost bashful demeanor that it was “the last stupid thing I ever did.” His tone and level of excitement were much lower than before. He did not advertise this to anyone but me. It was clear he had a love/hate relationship with his tattoo.

Most Interesting Tattoo in the World?

Most Interesting man in the world with an interesting tattoo

Does the Most Interesting Man in the World have this tattoo? (image courtesy Anderson Group via

Could this possibly be one of the most interesting tattoos in the world? Could it be the most interesting? Do you think the most interesting man in the world has anything close to this? After all, the actor who plays the Most Interesting Man lives in Vermont, less than three hours from my office in Orange, CT.

At his last dental visit, I did not get a chance to ask him what his favorite beer was. But part of me thinks the beer he enjoys the most is Dos-Equis.

Despite my patient’s mixed emotions about this tattoo, I don’t think he will be trying to get rid of it anytime soon. After all, it is not visible to anyone, except when he comes to our office.

As I said before, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things as a dentist, but this one was totally unexpected. To this day, I still look at it every time he comes in for cleanings. And he enjoys showing it to us!


Dental MythBuster #11 – You can get Gum Disease from Kissing Someone

Photo of people kissing and getting gum disease

Is he about to give her gum disease?

This dental myth is not as common as some of the other ones I have seen, such as the novocaine myth, the epinephrine allergy tale, and many others. However, it is still something that I encounter on a fairly regular basis.

This myth is the belief that gum disease can somehow be caught by kissing someone who already has the disease.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, more formally known as periodontal disease, are a series of conditions that affect the gum and bone tissue holding in the teeth. While there are some uncommon variations, the most common types are gingivitis and periodontitis.

Without proper treatment, over time, the disease can destroy the tissue holding in the teeth. And as a result, the teeth can ultimately loosen up and/or become infected, resulting in the loss of those teeth. Note that this is a completely different disease than cavities (also known as dental decay or caries).

Causes of Gum Disease

A photo is worth a thousand words, so let’s take a look:

Photo of lower teeth with significant calculus (tartar) and gum disease

Lower front teeth being viewed from the tongue side. Calculus, aka tartar, has built up between the teeth leading to gum disease.

The above photo shows the #1 cause of gum disease: poor oral hygiene leading to a buildup of plaque and calculus on the teeth above and below the gums.

This patient is one I saw in my office in Orange, CT. His gums tissue was red and inflamed and would bleed whenever they were touched.

Besides oral hygiene, there are other factors that can contribute to gum disease:

  • Smoking
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, leukemia, and many others
  • Some medications that cause dry mouth
  • Certain genetic traits
  • And many other factors

What’s Love Got to do with it?

Inflamed gums leading to periodontal disease seen in Orange, CT

This did NOT come from kissing someone!

Nothing! Gum disease is not caused by kissing someone. While it is true that kissing can spread oral bacteria from one person to another, this act does not cause a person to develop gum disease.

Did the plaque at the gum line on the photo to the left come from the person this patient just kissed? No!

While it may be tempting to blame your ex for the conditions of your gums, this is one thing you can’t pin on him/her!

Until the next Dental MythBuster…


A Drilling Dentist in My Fair Lady

Steve Martin singing dentist in the most famous dentist song

Steve Martin in a Little Shop of Horrors. Image from

If you ask almost anyone about a song featured in a movie that mentions dentistry or dentists, over 99% of people will mention Steve Martin’s character in a Little Shop of Horrors.

How did I come up with the 99%? Over the years, I’ve asked dozens of my patients that very question. Their response was always Steve Martin.

However, just recently one patient gave me a response that I was not expecting. He gave his response without even pausing to think:

“Well of course. It is Professor Higgins singing I’m an Ordinary Man in My Fair Lady.”

My Fair Lady Movie Poster which has a song that mentions a dentist drilling on teeth

My Fair Lady. Image courtesy Warner Bros.

My patient was completely surprised that I wasn’t aware of the song. When I told him that most people mention Steve Martin in a Little Shop of Horrors, he said, without even pausing, that he had never heard of the movie nor the dentist character.

Naturally, at my first opportunity, I rushed to Google the song. Here is an mp3 clip of the line to which my patient referred:

Drilling Dentist Line from My Fair Lady:


For those who don’t want to listen to it, the line goes: “I’d be equally as willing for a dentist to be drilling.”

I can’t say that I am a huge fan of musicals but I was intrigued enough to go stream the entire movie. While the musical was definitely entertaining, I would have to say that this line ranks fairly low on the list of best songs about dentists. Steve Martin is still number one in my book.

Does anyone else know of uncommon references to dentists in songs in movies? If yes, let me know!

Dentistry and Art: Lambert Doomer The Dentist

I’ve featured baroque dental paintings in the past, including masterpieces from Caravaggio and Gerard Van Honthorst. This is another baroque piece but it is a pen and ink drawing as opposed to oil on canvas. This is from the Dutch painter Lambert Doomer (1623 – 1700).

Lambert Doomer painting drawing of dentist from baroque era

High quality electronic reproduction of this drawing. Clicking on the image will yield a much larger version.

There are several interesting observations about this piece. First, we notice that the “dentist” is seated behind the patient with his assistant to his right. The assistant is ready to hand the “dentist” a vial and ensures that the three of them are underneath the umbrella. The ergonomics of this scene are very similar to the way dentistry is practiced now.

Secondly, the “dentist” also has a sword on his belt! I can only hope for the patient’s sake that the “dentist” isn’t planning on using it! I can assure you that if I wore a sword on my belt while practicing dentistry, I wouldn’t be in business for too much longer.

Lastly, we see the basket of eggs at the feet of the patient. This is typical for this era, as eggs were frequently used as payment for services of this kind back then.

This artwork, along with many of the other pieces I’ve posted in my Dentistry and Art series, should make us glad we live in 2013!