It was a harrowing case of teeth cleaning gone awry for one British teen who feared she might die after swallowing her toothbrush.
According to The Sun, 19-year-old Georgie Smith, of Brighton, East Sussex, felt the tooth brush slipping down her throat but couldn't do much to stop it. Smith, a student at Guildford University, has no gag reflex.
(Check out these X-ray images of an Atlanta woman who swallowed a butter knife during an ill-advised demonstration of the same trait.)
“I thought I was going to choke to death and was stunned when I [realized] it wasn’t stuck in my throat and I could breathe," Smith told the Sun. Doctors allegedly told the teen that there was nothing they could do, and she should just wait for "nature to take care of things."
“Nobody knows where it is as X-rays don’t show plastic. It could be dissolving in my intestines or may already have passed through," she said.
Smith's "brush with death" is not as uncommon as one might think.
An operation to remove a toothbrush from a 15-year old New Zealand girl's stomach went off without a hitch, despite the surgeon's fears she might suffer internal injuries during the extraction.
Doctor Dinesh Lal, a gastroenterologist, was astonished when the patient told him she had pushed the toothbrush down her throat accidentally, when she tripped while brushing, according to the New Zealand Herald. The operation, which required six specialists, was written up in a 2010 issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.
The fact that plastic cannot always be spotted on an X-ray was also problematic for a young woman in Jerusalem, who spent days trying to persuade doctors at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa to take her complaint seriously.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the 25-year-old woman swallowed the brush, bristles and all, while leaning over her bathroom sink. But emergency doctors failed to find the brush, and doubted her story.
“I begged them to do more tests,” she said. “Apparently they thought I was dreaming or not normal, and they sent me home.”
Eventually, a CT scan was ordered, and the brush was extracted.
Despite its apparent risks, dental hygiene is no laughing matter. At an American Heart Association research meeting this spring, researchers said that dental care not only prevents cavities and gum disease, but can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Also on HuffPost:
This dozing drunk caught a free ride on the baggage belt at a Rome airport, and received a free full-body X-ray in the process.
Invasive Species? Man Hospitalized With Eel In Butt
A man in China's southeastern Guangdong province admitted himself to a local hospital after he reportedly got a live eel stuck inside him. According to British tabloid The Sun, the man inserted the 20-inch-long Asian <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4880024/porn-addict-rushed-to-hospital-after-he-put-live-eel-up-bum.html" target="_hplink">swamp eel into his anus after seeing it done in a porn movie</a>, and he had to endure all-night surgery to have it extracted. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/eel-removed-from-man-stuck-colon-photo_n_3046785.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news" target="_blank">(Read More)</a>
Face In A Testicular Ultrasound
Doctors examining an ultrasound of a testicular tumor in Canada were shocked by the resemblance to a face in agony. "It was very ghoulish, like a man screaming in pain," said Doctor Naji Touma, who works at Queen's University, according to The Toronto Star.
Fork In Tummy
Lee Gardner got a plastic fork stuck in his stomach. FOR 10 YEARS. Here's the fork in it's glory, after the operation.
Prisoner X-rays in May 2006
X-rays from Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C., on display in May 2006 show items such as bed springs and batteries that prisoners swallowed to gain trips to outside hospitals.
Nail in skull
A nail rests in a South Korean man's skull in December 2004. He sought help for a bad headache and upon discovery said it likely happened four years earlier.
Surgical scissors in Australian woman
A 6-inch pair of surgical scissors appears in the abdomen of Australian Pat Skinner in April 2004 -- 18 months after her initial operation.
In this Monday Sept. 12, 2011 image of a CAT scan released by Brazilian Federal Police on Sept. 16, 2011, bags loaded with cocaine are seen inside the body of an unidentified man after he was arrested at the Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Monday. According to a federal police press release, the man is identified as a young Irish male who tried to board a flight to Brussels after swallowing 72 capsules containing a total of 830 grams (1.82 pounds) of cocaine.
Chair January 2007
The leg of a chair thrown outside a Melbourne, Australia, club in January 2007 speared Shafique el-Fahkri's eye socket down to his neck. He spent a month in intensive care but has mostly recovered.
Marilyn Monroe chest x-ray - June 28, 2010
Three X-rays of Marilyn Monroe's chest and pelvis taken during a 1954 hospital visit have sold for more than 10 times their presale estimates, earning $45,000.
A Miami teen who impaled himself in the forehead in a spearfishing gun accident is very, very lucky, according to surgeons who were able to remove the long piece of metal that was lodged all the way through his brain.
PVC pipe in corpse in February 2006
A film released in February 2006 shows PVC plumbing pipes put into a deceased person as part of an alleged body parts ring. Several people were charged in the case.
Snake and blanket July 2006
Houdini, a 12-foot python, swallowed an electric blanket in July 2006 that his owner put in his cage for warmth. The snake was doing fine after surgery.
Cutis Verticis Gyrata
The man has a condition called cutis verticis gyrata, which is when the scalp has "ridges and furrows resembling the brain's surface."
In this image provided by the University Medical Center in Tucson, a CT scan shows a pair of pruning shears embedded in the head of an 86-year-old Green Valley, Ariz., man before it was removed by Medical Center surgeons in Tucson on July 30, 2011. Leroy Luetscher was accidentally impaled through his eye socket after falling on the shears while working in his yard, the handle penetrating his eye socket and reaching down into his neck. He is expected to make a full recovery. (AP Photo/University Medical Center,Tucson, Arizona)
Spear in man's head
These CT scans show a 6-inch spear lodged in the head of Emerson de Oliveira Abreu, who sought treatment at a hospital in Brazil in late March. The spear pierced his head during an underwater fishing accident. After doctors operated to remove the spear, Abreau said he would never fish underwater again.
Scissors in the Abdomen - Feb. 16, 2011
An X-ray shows a pair of surgical scissors in the abdomen of Anne, a woman in Lyon, France, who complained of abdominal pain after a surgery. Five months after the operation, Anne realized the scissors had been forgotten in her womb when the point of the scissors pierced her navel following a coughing fit.
Nails in skull
A nail gun shot six nails into construction worker Isidro Mejia's head during an April 2004 accident. He survived and was expected at the time to recover fully.
Dog Swallows Wedding Ring
Albuquerque resident Rachelle Atkinson says she and her husband Scott had searched everywhere for their $4,500 wedding ring before beginning to suspect the dog ate it.
Chen Liu of China
Police in Sydney, Australia, released this X-ray of the skull of Chen Liu, 27, who died after being shot in the head with a nail gun 34 times. Liu's bound body was found in a river in November. The photo was released as part of a public plea for more information in the case. Liu is shown on the upper left in an undated photo.
Metal Bar Through Skull
This tomography scan released Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 by the Miguel Couto hospital, show the skull of 24-year-old construction worker Eduardo Leite pierced by a metal bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Doctors say Leite survived after a 6-foot metal bar fell from above him and pierced his head. Luiz Essinger of Rio de Janeiro's Miguel Couto Hospital Friday told the Globo TV network that doctor's successfully withdrew the iron bar during a five-hour-long surgery.
Dante Autullo, a 32-year-old Chicago man, accidentally shot a 3.5 inch nail in his brain and didn't notice for more than 24 hours. In January of 2012, doctors at Advocate Christ Medical Center successfully removed the nail and replaced a piece of his skull with a mesh patch and titanium plate.
Prisoner who swallowed a cell phone, Sept. 2006
Cell phones were found in the intestines of four prisoners in El Salvador's maximum-security prison, authorities said in September 2006. Suspicious prison officials took X-rays of each of the prisoners.
live ammo in skull
A CT scan shows a 14.5 millimeter live round of ammunition lodged in the skull of an Afghan soldier. A U.S. military doctor successfully removed the unexploded round -- more than 2 inches long -- at the Bagram Air Field hospital in Afghanistan last month.
A 30-year-old Atlanta woman with a history of bulimia swallowed a knife while demonstrating that she no longer had a gag reflex for friends, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Steel balls and magnets inside a child, May 8, 2008
An 8-year-old girl from Indiana swallowed steel balls and magnets from a toy set in May. The child required emergency surgery and was hospitalized for two weeks.
Knife in Face
A stunning X-ray image shows a knife stuck deep inside a Chinese teenager's cheek. Ren Hanzhi, 13, tripped and fell while peeling an apple -- jamming himself in the face with a nearly 8-inch knife on Jan. 31. Amazingly, the blade did not strike the boy's brain and doctors were able to remove the knife, expecting him to make a full recovery.
Alien Tumor -- Feb. 14, 2011
When California vice principal Josh Abken told his doctor he was having persistent back pain about a year ago, the doctor took an X-ray. They discovered a soccer-ball sized "alien" tumor that had become as solid as a rock and even had growing tentacles.
Lee Gardner's Fork, PRE-OP
Yeah, it's disgusting. Sorry about that.