Mystery of the Missing Molar

Have you ever lost a tooth? I don’t mean it fell out or was pulled. I mean have you ever literally lost one? As in “issue an Enamel Alert, and put its picture on toothpaste tubes” lost. You probably wonder how that could happen, but I can tell you…it can.

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Last night, after 11:00 p.m., I was almost ready to go to bed and decided to have a piece of toast, because since my gastric bypass in 2001, eating makes me sleepy. I made my toast, buttered it, and returned to the couch to munch while I got ready to shut down the computer and call it a night.

Next thought… “Toast doesn’t have bones.”

But there was something hard in my mouth. I felt around with my tongue, separated the mushy toast-bites from the hard thing, swallowed the toast, and spit the object into my hand.

The crown from one of my bottom right molars. Nice.

Further lingual investigation identified the tooth-stump and probed. No pain. Well, that was good.

The bottom of the crown looked gross, but since I have no idea what the underside of an eight-year-old crown should look like, I can’t really say if that was unusual.

For the past month, I’ve had a series of dental appointments to address a lot of cavities, chips, and broken teeth resulting from seventeen years of malabsorption and demineralization due to my gastric bypass–a side effect we hadn’t really known about back when I had the surgery. Fortunately, I already had an appointment scheduled for 11:00 this morning.

I grabbed my phone, took a photo of the wayward crown and one of the tooth-stump in my mouth, and emailed the dental office with the subject “Emergency!”

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The crown in question, and possibly some semi-chewed toast

I’d already locked and barred the sliding door, so I shut down the computer, got my phone and glass of water, put the tooth on the breakfast bar, threw away the paper towel and remainder of the piece of toast, turned off the lights, called the dogs, went through the bedroom (followed by the dogs), into my bathroom to get ready for bed, then got into bed and thought about finding a small jewelry bag in the kitchen drawer to put the tooth in so I could take it with me in the morning to show the dentist.

This morning, I got up and made coffee, let the dogs out, got a little fabric bag out of the junk drawer, and went to put the tooth in it.

But the tooth was gone.

I know I put it on the breakfast bar. Yes, it was very late, and I was already halfway to sleepy-land, but I know I put it there, because that’s where I put the dogs’ puppy teeth when I found them, and I thought it was funny.

I fed the dogs, poured coffee, and started looking. On the floor, around the base of the breakfast bar, under the table, in Oliver’s crate, under Oliver’s crate, on the end table where I sit all day, around the computer, under the couch, in the couch, under other furniture, in and around various objects on the kitchen counters, in the garbage inside the paper towel holding the uneaten toast, in the half-bath (though I’m sure I didn’t go in there after the incident), on the deck in case I was wrong and we had gone outside again after the crown came off and I’d had it in my hand, in my bathroom, on my bed stand, in the bed, on floors all along the route I took from couch to bed…no tooth.

Email from the dentist’s office said bring it, because maybe they could put it back on. I explained my dilemma.

Appointment time came, and I had work done on the front bottom teeth, and some preliminary repairs to a very unsightly area of decay on one front tooth. And they took an impression of the tooth-stump, because it’s looking like I’m going to need a new crown.

Inquiring of the Facebook hive mind, it was suggested one of the dogs got it. Apparently, dogs are attracted to dental-mouth-type-things. They chew up whitening trays, retainers, dentures, so…maybe? But these two do not counter surf. The area where I put the tooth is where I also put their treats, and they’ve never taken anything off there. But what else could it be? A very determined mouse? There are way tastier things around here than a broken crown.

I’m left with only one suspect. The tooth fairy. A really shitty tooth fairy who needs to be fired immediately, because I did not put it under my pillow, did not authorize the theft of mens-tooth-fairy-costumethe tooth, and the bitch didn’t leave me any money, which I’m now going to need to pay for a new crown.

So, instead of being on dental visit 5 of 6 or 7, it’s now 5 of 7 or 8, because it will probably take a couple of visits to prepare and place the crown. Yay.

I’m done looking. I’ve driven myself nuts over it all day. If it shows up, fine. If a dog ate it, I don’t want it back. (Seriously.) It’s not for sure they could put this one back on anyway, and after eight or so years, it’s probably a good idea to start fresh.

Of course, now that I’m not looking, maybe it will come out of hiding. The main irritation right now is the mystery. It’s like a cliffhanger. I want to know where the hell a tooth could go, possibly of its own volition, between 11:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

The dogs aren’t talking.

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