12

There is a viral video going around that repeats a claim I've heard before about getting a light bulb stuck in your mouth

The bulb shape allows it to be put into the mouth, but taking it out is problematic.

Graphic reads,

The bulb shape allows it to be put into the mouth, but taking it out is problematic.

Central to the claim seems to be the jaw muscles clenching up. Is there any actual work debunking this claim. I've always wanted to put a light bulb in my mouth and I'm wondering if it is a bad idea.

  • 1
    Note the end of the video: Avoid experimenting! I would recommend you don't stick things that aren't meant to go in your mouth into your mouth. :) – user40197 May 10 '17 at 2:57
  • 11
    The first issue is there are many sizes for lightbulbs. – Oddthinking May 10 '17 at 2:58
  • 1
    I don't suppose a magic act counts as evidence, but it does highlight the question of sizes. – Oddthinking May 10 '17 at 3:03
  • 1
  • 4
    "Most studies show that the maximum jaw range of motion (ROM) or maximum mouth opening (MMO) is related to body size and height. So men can usually open wider than women, taller people more than shorter people. In studies, MMO for adults has generally been around 50 mm, with a range from 32mm to 77mm." Source. I know original research is not allowed, but I'd say a large chunk of people can't even fit the bulb in their mouth in the first place. – fredsbend May 10 '17 at 3:25
10

Unlikely.

First of all, there are at least five different YouTube videos where people try it out and have no problems. Here is one that includes various sizes and shapes.

Secondly, if this were possible, it is likely that cases would appear in the medical literature, but they don't. It is not difficult to find documented cases of light bulbs stuck in people's rectums, of children swallowing small LEDs and so on. Here is a dataset of nearly 2000 light-bulb related mouth injuries presented at hospitals. While only some descriptions are available and all of them are brief, they are just burns, cuts and the like. None of the available descriptions mention one getting "stuck".

EDIT: To be clear, cuts from light bulbs in the mouth don't necesserily imply that the bulb was stuck. Here are typical descriptions of the injuries.

  • 2 [year old male] BIT A LIGHT BULB AT HOME. PATENTS GOT SOME PIECES FROM MOUTH. DX-ABRASIONS MOUTH.
  • 19 [month old male] BIT LIGHT BULB IT BROKE, HIT MOUTH. DX MOUTH CONTUSION
  • 2 [year old male] PLAYING W/ A LIGHT BULB WHEN HE PLACED IT IN MOUTH, LIGHT BULB BROKE. GLASS CUT PTS LIPS. DX MOUTH LAC
  • 1
    I briefly search for medical literature about light bulbs stuck in the mouth as well and could not find anything. Also light bulbs stuck in the rectum I did find. – fredsbend May 10 '17 at 18:52
  • 1
    Cuts to the mouth from a lightbulb might mean one was stuck at some point. – user36688 May 10 '17 at 19:22
  • 2
    @notstoreboughtdirt Not necessarily... I'll edit to add some sample descriptions. – Brian Z May 10 '17 at 20:09
  • It looks like 2/3 were toddlers and a significant portion involved falling while changing a bulb. I still hold out that some of the ones with no note could be getting stuck. – user36688 May 10 '17 at 21:38
  • 3
    @notstoreboughtdirt That's pure speculation unless you can find an explicit case. – Brian Z May 11 '17 at 12:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .