My gums are disappearing…

I seem to have eroded a large part of the gum above my teeth by brushing aggressively in the mornings. But if I don’t brush that hard my teeth look yellow. What shall I do?
Max Andrews, via e-mail

“You’re brushing your teeth incorrectly, probably like you’d polish a pair of shoes!” chides dental specialist Dr Hap Gill. Instead, the peg expert reckons a “circular motion and a soft brush” is best, and that you should spend the same amount of time on each tooth. If all else fails, start looking at the dentist as your friend, instead of your enemy. “The best way to learn is to be taught by a dental professional,” says Dr Gill. “Book a consultation and use a stain removing toothpaste such as Janina Liquid. It costs around £7.”

My knee creeks like a barn door

I get a scraping sensation in my leg, especially after playing football. My doc says it’s arthritis of the knee. But I’m only 26. How can I stop it getting worse?
Bryan Stanhurst, Newcastle

“It could be hereditary, but it’s more likely to be the result of a knee injury or trauma,” says orthopaedic and sports physician Dr Rav Naik. To keep it in check, Naik recommends keeping the joint mobile, building up your quadriceps and hamstrings and taking anti-inflammatories or painkillers to control the pain and swelling. “Of course,” he says, “it could be something different altogther such as septic arthritis, gout or even a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea. But this would be more noticeable and the joint would be hot and swollen. If the pain is not settling, see your GP. They’ll confirm the initial diagnosis by X-ray and blood tests.”

I wake up disabled

I keep waking up in the middle of the night, but can’t move. It feels like I’m disabled and then sometimes I hallucinate. Could it be anything to do with the fact that I used to smoke loads of weed?
Chuck McGyver, via e-mail

“Firstly, he’s not really paralysed!” says Dr William Shanahan, Executive Medical Director at Capio Nightingale Hospital, chortling away to himself. “If he was, he wouldn’t be able to breath, so he’s not going to die.” Far likelier, reckons the good doctor, that the culprit is a strange phenomena called “waking nightmares”. “You get a sense that you’re paralysed, but you’re still asleep and semi-conscious.” Waking nightmares can be caused by outside causes such as stress or stimulants. Or even, frighteningly, carbon monoxide in the room. Dr Shanahan recommends a quick checklist to ascertain the cause. “Check your room – is it aerated? Hallucinations suggest a toxin – are you drinking before bed?” And could it be the ganja? “It’s unlikely if it was a long time ago.”

Has my ticker stopped?

I keep getting this crushing pain just above my collar-bone. And then it goes. Is it stress- or heart-related? I’m quite fit, but I’m worried I’ve just had a heart attack. Help.
John Carter, Nunhead

“It could be angina,” says Judy Sullivan, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “This is the pain you get when arteries that feed the heart narrow. It can come about during exercise, although it is typically felt in the chest.” But to be sure it’s not a heart attack, drag yourself off to your local sawbones quick smart for a check-up. “The pain of a heart attack can be severe and crushing in nature – or it can feel like a very bad episode of indigestion. It usually also makes the person feel generally unwell and can be associated with nausea, vomiting or sweating. If you get chest pain you should call 999 immediately. Too many people ignore chest pain and risk their lives by not calling for emergency help immediately.” Visit www.bhf.org.uk/doubtkills for more information. And then shit yourself.

Can too few wanks kill you?

I’ve taken the momentous decision to stop “punching the clown” as I like to have a full load when I have sex. Does stopping damage my sperm?
Andy Goodall, Doncaster

Happily, it’s a green light for banging one out, according to sexual health expert Dr Catherine Hood. “All but a few men masturbate regularly, with the average being three times a week. It’s completely normal and it certainly doesn’t cause blindness as you might have heard.” Woo! But doesn’t leaving the old chap alone for prolonged periods affect your ability to sire future generations of little wankers? No chance – in fact, Dr Hood actually reckons laying off the grot for a few days can help if you’re trying to get your partner pregnant as it’ll raise your sperm count. And if you do embark upon a self-imposed spank drought, expect the odd side effect, such as aching balls and stained sheets as your neglected swimmers make a nightly bid for freedom.

Mouthful of agony

My wisdom teeth are killing me. Is there any option open to me other than having my jaw broken in two places?
Mark Sandell, Hove

“Relax,” advises Dr Henry Clover of dental healthcare company Denplan. Breaking your jaw in two will do little to help the pain. “Wisdom teeth can cause discomfort when they first emerge through the gum. If there’s space for the tooth to grow fully, things should work out fine.” Rinse your gob with warm, salty water to ease your tender gums and, if the pain continues, see your dentist. As Dr Clover explains: “Sometimes wisdom teeth do not have enough room to grow properly and become impacted. If this is the case, soreness or infection around the teeth may return periodically and your dentist may decide that it would be in your best interest to have the teeth removed.”

I find it impossible to sleep

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends recently, only getting about four hours sleep a night. But now, even when I’m not out, I can’t get to sleep for any longer than that length of time. Do I need more drugs?
Jeff Hunt, via e-mail

“Emphatically not!” says Dr. William Shanahan. “His problem is really explained in the first sentence.” Shanahan suggests treating the complaint with good old-fashioned common sense – which means cutting stimulants and a general lifestyle change. “This man should exercise more,” chortles the quack. “Cut the caffeine after midday and cut down on any recreational activities that might be adding to the problem – and not just the party drugs! Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns. Basically, he needs a lifestyle change, ha ha!” Oh, hilarious…

What's wrong with FHM readers?

Just the usual – mashed bones, blood, gore…

1 War torn
Reader Mark Burgess’ experience in a “theatre of war” (well, paintballing with pals on his birthday) was excruciating. “I knelt into a puddle when I felt something sharp cut my leg to shreds.” Chuckling mates apparently then unloaded point-blank in his face.

2 Handy work
No, this isn’t the Vulcan peace sign. It’s the upshot of an evening of booze crossed with a rickety set of old stairs. But it wasn’t until later that the true cause of Rob Savage’s finger-fracture emerged. “A friend admitted she’d drunkenly pushed me for a laugh.”

3 The beautiful pain
Plucky reader Tom Isobe’s injury looks excrutiating. “I was having a kick-about with friends, but after jumping in the air landed badly on my leg.” Ending with him having this RoboCop-style contraption tied to his limb.