A Down Payment for the Tooth Fairy

“Mr. Miller, we need to take X-rays of your teeth this morning.”

Great.  Put a lead apron on my chest, place some weird metal chew-device in my mouth, aim a long plastic tube-gun at my face, and then BEEP.  Repeat times 17.

Yep, I’m at the dental practice of Mohler and Choo, D.D.S., getting my regular dental cleaning and maintenance.  Since my previous dental hygienist, Ms. Colgate, has moved on to new duties, I now have a new person to monitor my cleanings, an Irish woman named Ms. O’Flahs.  Dente O’Flahs.

Look, you try to come up with dental puns to protect HIPAA requirements…

Anyway, as Ms. O’Flahs was taking X-rays of my teeth and gums, I daydreamed about goofing around with the procedure.  Heck, I could have slipped a penny in my mouth – wouldn’t those have been funny dental photos – me biting down on a penny.  That would certainly show off my incisors and my bicuspids and –

Hey wait a second and a half.

What would a coin look like with X-ray film?

So I asked Ms. O’Flahs about what she needed to do to develop X-ray film.  And after a few moments, she handed me a few little plastic rectangles.

I recognized them – they were the soft cartridges that contain X-ray film.

“Take a few of these,” she said, “and test them out.  If you bring them back in, and it’s a slow day, we can develop them for you.”


All right, now all I need to do is get something, put it on the film, find an X-ray camera to take pictures of the procedure, and …

Oh yeah.  Gotta find an X-ray camera.  I didn’t think that far ahead.  My bad.

But I did have a few coins in my pocket…

And today was a slow day…

So Ms. O’Flahs and I did a little photo experimentation.  I taped a quarter to the side of one of the dental films, the film was placed in a bite plate, and she photographed the coin-and-film in my mouth.

A few moments later, she handed me a piece of dental film.

I recognized it.  There were my teeth… and a semicircle where the X-rays were blocked by the quarter.

“You do know that X-rays don’t go through metal,” she said to me.

No they don’t… but I had an idea.

I have a few coins that, either from abuse or from wear, are essentially useless.  I try dropping them in a vending machine, the machine spits them out.  I try dropping them in a CoinStar machine, again the machine spits them out.  I try giving them out in change, they eventually come back to me.  It’s almost as if they’re tethered to me like some sort of coinage chain.

I found one of the coins – a distressed quarter that looks like it went three rounds with Holly Holm.  The quarter was pitted and scuffed and chewed.

I scanned the quarter.  Then I scanned the dental film.

Put them together and what do you have?


The Tooth Fairy Down Payment.  Dental X-ray machine, Carestream Ultra-Speed DF-58 film.  Photo, quarter and teeth by Chuck Miller.
The Tooth Fairy Down Payment. Dental X-ray machine, Carestream Ultra-Speed DF-58 film. Photo, quarter and teeth by Chuck Miller.

This is kinda funny.  It’s almost as if the recipient was trying to do anything possible to get an extra quarter from the Tooth Fairy – even if it meant destroying their teeth by chewing on the Tooth Fairy’s last quarter.  Gotta spend money to make money, I guess. 😀

I don’t know if I’ll ever play with dental film ever again, outside of a visit to Mohler and Choo, D.D.S.  But still… this does have some fun to it, and maybe I can tweak this image for a future artistic submission.

Or maybe I’ll just leave it as it is.  Kind of like a gap that needs a filling.