Many years ago, these utterly peculiar fused molars occasioned considerable tomfoolery in one doctor’s dental practice. By Larry Cohen
ALTHOUGH I’M USUALLY keen to share my lifelong collection of dental antiques, I’ve decided to expand my purview a little bit this issue to bring you something that might better be thought of, I suppose, as a curiosity. I’m not quite sure how rare fused molars are, but this is the only set I’ve ever seen. Aside from being an offbeat anomaly, this particular specimen has a fun back story, too.
In the 1960s, when I was a young dental-supply sales rep, I called on an old dentist who kept this “freak,” as he put it, in the top drawer of his dental cabinet. This gentleman, probably already in his eighties by the time I met him, practiced in a small coal-mining town. He was into extractions and dentures, and had a lot of fun with this unique molar (or “these unique molars,” depending on your point of view).
Depending on the patient, he’d display these fused teeth with glee either before or after an extraction. When it came to big, tough coal miners, he’d show them beforehand, saying “I hope I don’t have as much trouble getting your tooth out as I did with this one.” For others, he’d wait until after the extraction and, with a laugh, show off this startling substitute for the tooth he had actually taken out.
After this doctor’s passing, at his widow’s request, Benco cleaned out his antique office—and I became the proud owner of this bizarre little item. And now, a half-century later, I’m happy to share his favorite molars with the entire dental world.
What do the oral surgeons among our readers think about his “humorous” approach to handling extractions? And how legitimately unique is this matched set, anyway? I’d love to hear about the former at email@example.com. As for the latter, well, if you email me a photo that tops this one, I’ll make sure it gets published in a future issue of Incisal Edge. •
LARRY COHEN, Benco Dental’s chairman and chief customer advocate, has over the past half-century collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco’s home office in Pittston, Pennsylvania.