The Mystery of the Denture Bandit(s)

We once had a denture bandit at the nursing home I worked at. Several patients dentures came up missing, usually about a pair a week, and a few days later they would show up back in the denture cup. I had no idea what could be happening and had begun checking all trays before they were being picked up and questioning the laundry if they were finding any. Nope, no one had seen any dentures in any unexpected places. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

The Mystery of the Denture Bandit(s)

This went on for several weeks, so I took it upon myself to put the dentures in all of the patient's mouths who could not do so their self, and I did daily random denture checks. I would make my way checking and talking to my denture patients just to see if they still had them in. I figured if I kept a close eye I could see where they were going.

My suspicion was that a patient with Alzheimer's was picking them up and hiding them and that housekeepers were finding them and returning them. I wanted to find out which pt, so I could keep a closer eye. I never told anyone about my denture mission, and I don't even know why I was so concerned with it, however, I was.

I began to notice the most unusual pattern.

The dentures disappeared about every 4th day and returned 2 days later. Always usually coming up missing in the afternoon and returning in the afternoon. Nurses worked 12-hour shift, aides worked 8-hour shifts.

I began seeing that the dentures were coming up missing on the same rotation of aides. I don't know why I never realized whether or not any of them were missing their teeth. I guess because the thought of them actually taking the dentures never crossed my mind. I only thought that maybe a certain group of aides was being irresponsible with them.

Finally, we had a patient with dentures come up missing that never showed back up, just a few weeks later another pair came up missing and never showed back up. This was very hard to explain to the families and our facility was going to have to replace them. They even suggested moving their family member to another facility if they weren't found.

Two of our aides came in and were assigned to my hall, a husband and wife. I hadn't had them for a few weeks. I sent them into one of the patient's rooms who was missing their dentures. It was an Alzheimer's patient. I had not explained that their family was visiting.

I heard yelling "You bleeping thief... How dare you..."

I made my way to the room and found the patients' son holding my aide by the collar. I was about to call the police but decided to diffuse the situation.

"Sir, please calm down. There must be some misunderstanding. Let's talk about this."

He let go of the aide and said, "He stole my mom's teeth. The sorry bleep stole my moms' teeth."

I said, "Surely there is a misunderstanding."

He said, "No, I would know those teeth anywhere, they are mom's."

I looked at the aide and apologized, and asked him to please show us his gums so we could see that they were real teeth. He hesitated, but with prodding, he proceeded. When he opened his mouth the dentures dropped off of his gums. I was shocked. I never knew he had dentures.

How observant of I?

We had him spit them out, and right on the side was the patient's name. Apparently, he and his wife had been taking the teeth home to clean them and try them on and would bring them back when they wouldn't fit comfortably. They had finally found a pair for each of them. They were fired and turned in to proper authorities. I still kick myself in the rear for not inspecting my fellow co-workers' mouths. Who would have thought.....

3 Articles   129 Posts

Share this post

:lghmky::hhmth:thanks you made my day


cleaning dentures is one of my most dreaded tasks.

Oooo, that's pretty gross! I remember my best friend 20 odd yrs ago hated cleaning dentures. She decided to get the dreaded task out of the way one morning and ended up putting all the pts teeth together. She proceeded to clean them all at the same time. Whoops!

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep..
I still kick myself in the rear for not inspecting my fellow co-workers mouths. Who would of thought.....

SNORK! too funny! Horrible but funny!

Specializes in EMS~ ALS.../...Bartending ~ Psych :).

That is just nasty!

Specializes in Hospice, LTC.

This is so disgusting, I do agree, but it was also a very humorous situation. Those teeth just kind of flapped around in there like mr. Ed's do on the old TV show. Just thinking about it gets me in stitches.

wearing other people's dentures is pretty darn gross if u ask me...eewww bacteria!!!

Specializes in acute care.

Good job, detective, but it's still gross. EEEEEK!:smokin:

Pretty amazing that the son recognized the teeth in someone else's mouth! Don't know if I would ever! Luckily, not usually a needed skill.