Dentistry in the News – Case of the Stolen Gold Tooth

This week the Buffalo News released a story titled:

Man Loses Gold Tooth and Pants at Gunpoint

The title ALMOST says it all. But to be sure there are no questions left unanswered, two men stole a bunch of stuff from a man in Buffalo, New York. At gunpoint. A list of these items include:

  • cash
  • car keys
  • cellphone
  • sneakers
  • pants
  • gold tooth

The thieves were caught. Most of the stolen property was returned. I know what you’re wondering. The answer is I don’t know. The police reports were not clear about whether said gold tooth was returned to the man.┬áBut it did get me thinking.

We have all had patients that wanted to take home “gifts from the dentist”. Sometimes that means a baby tooth. Sometimes that means a decayed first molar. Sometimes that means a gold crown. Every time I ask what exactly it is they plan to do with their new swag. I have heard the following:

  • make a necklace out of it
  • include it in a piece of art
  • melt it down, to create jewelry
  • send the gold in for money
  • “I keep all my children’s teeth.”

So the question is, how often do these teeth or leftover teeth accessories, get stolen, before the above plans occur? And more importantly, will insurance cover this? How does the patient send proof? Lab slips? Should I be advising patients to keep their swag in their safes at home? Do people still have safes at home?

They never taught me about this kind of stuff in school.