Killer Popcorn: Man Needs Open Heart Surgery After Kernel Gets Stuck in Tooth


The worst part about going to the movies and getting popcorn is when you get a kernel stuck in just the wrong place in your tooth. Then for the whole movie, you can feel it just sitting there. Waiting.

This British man objectively had a worse experience. He claims that a kernel that lodged itself in his back tooth after a movie with his wife led to a heart infection, and eventually open heart surgery.

What Happened With the Popcorn?

Adam Martin is a firefighter, husband, and father of three children from Cornwall, England. In September of last year, he watched a movie with his wife and they shared some popcorn. Afterward, he noticed that he had a piece of popcorn stuck in his back tooth.

Over the next few days, he tried anything to get it out. A pen lid, a piece of wire, a toothpick (which would have been our first choice, but you know…), and even a metal nail. No dice. Martin damaged his surrounding gums while trying to remove the kernel.

Later that week, he started feeling ill. While he initially chalked it up to the flu, it became so much worse.

Signs of a Heart Infection

Martin was suffering from night sweats, headaches, fatigue… he assumed that one of his kids brought home the flu, and tried to sleep it off. However, it just got worse.

In October Martin went to see his doctor, who diagnosed him with a heart murmur and sent him away. But Martin knew something wasn’t quite right – when he didn’t get better soon, he went to the hospital.

As it turns out, the symptoms of endocarditis (which is an infection in the lining of the heart) are awfully similar to the flu, which is what Martin was experiencing.

The damage was so bad that the first hospital Martin went to wouldn’t operate on him, and he was transferred to see a specialist. Scans showed extensive scarring in the tissue of his heart, and he had to undergo a seven-hour open-heart surgery to repair his mitral valve and completely replace his aortic valve.

Don’t Worry – Martin Is Fine Now

Good news! Martin has successfully undergone surgery and come out on the other side just fine. He said to a news outlet that it was the “worst experience” of his life.

“I wasn’t far off of 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.”

His wife, 38-year-old Helen Martin, referred to the gums as “a bacterial highway to your heart.” She also noted that if the first doctor had paid closer attention, or if they had caught it sooner, it could have easily been fixed with antibiotics.