Most kids are driven to the dentist office to have their teeth cleaned by an expert.
But Russell Laman is not like most kids, and just might be the only kid—the only person!—to have his teeth and mouth cleaned by live shrimp while scuba diving.
The accompanying photos and video show Laman patiently stationed at the ocean floor in Bali, Indonesia, while cleaner shrimp probe his mouth looking for organisms.
The concept is simple regarding cleaner shrimp. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship with certain types of fish, which allow the shrimp to remove parasites from their mouths. The shrimp benefit from the nutritional value of the parasites.
Most kids would gross out at the mere thought of a shrimp crawling around their mouths but, again, Laman, a 13-year-old from Lexington, Massachusetts, is no ordinary kid.
He didn’t gross out and, remarkably, he managed to remain still with his regulator out of his mouth at 60-plus feet, while holding his breath long enough for the shrimp to do what they’re instinctively trained to do.
Laman said he and his father watched the shrimp stationed in the coral and among sponges, waiting for customers, so Russell opened wide.
“It felt like tiny little dentists picking away at my teeth and scuttling around my mouth,” Laman told the Daily Mail. “It tickled a little but not too badly.”
Asked why he would do such a thing, he answered: “I thought it would be really cool to experience shrimp in my mouth first-hand.”
His father, Tim, was impressed.
“It takes a relaxed diver to take out his regulator at 23 meters deep and present your mouth wide open to the shrimp. You have to hold your breath for I’d say 30 seconds to have a reasonable chance, and Russell calmly held his breath for over 40 seconds.”
It’s not clear whether this peculiar odyssey earned Russell a reprieve from visiting the oral hygienist, or whether this was cause for visiting the hygienist as soon as possible after returning home.