Not everyone has the palate for it, but the story of the false teeth left behind in a Portland voting booth last week is Polygripping the nation, giving folks far and wide plenty to chew on – and plenty of fodder for bad puns.

But the attention from MSNBC, National Public Radio and The Washington Post, among others, has not reunited the dental appliance with the gums that once held it.

So far, one person has tried to claim the upper set of dentures that were left in Merrill Auditorium on Election Day, but City Clerk Katherine Jones said it was a false alarm.

“His teeth had his name on them and these did not,” Jones said Monday.

Carol Morrissette, who was working at the polling location, said it’s unusual for someone to leave an item in the voting booth and not return for it.

“We always end up with keys or a cellphone, but usually before people get out the front door we can catch them,” she said. “I didn’t see or hear anyone say, ‘Oh, shoot, my teeth!’ ”


Wednesday afternoon, City Hall Communications Director Jessica Grondin said that staff is beginning to think that the city may have a fake set of false teeth. She said the dentures have been examined with a magnifying glass and the appliance is not marked with a name or other identification, which is common practice.

Also the fact that the election was so close to Halloween is suspicious, she said.

“That is just their theory, of course,” Grondin said. “We’ll never know for sure. And we’re willing to hang on to them for a little while longer.”

Meanwhile, there may be a good citizen of Portland struggling to eat solid food. But that’s not stopping the story from being a tasty morsel for people to have fun with.

Rachel Maddow has produced two segments on her MSNBC show about the orphaned choppers. Maddow and her staff could barely keep it together on Nov. 9 when they tried to read the original story in the Press Herald.

Still enameled with the half-smile a week later, Maddow returned to the topic Tuesday night, saying it was “going to be an essential part of wrapping up our election coverage for 2017, because I’m really not comfortable leaving this part of our election coverage unsettled.”


The 3½-minute segment was titled “Election Fall Out” and had a picture of a tooth with a frowning face. She noted that the story had even been published in Malta, the small island nation over 4,000 miles away in the Mediterranean Sea. The segment ends with pun-filled banter between Maddow and political analyst Joy Reid, whose jaw was dropped in disbelief.

“This is actually a bigger mystery than Russia-gate at this point,” Reid joked.

Even David Greene, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, got in on the action. Greene speculated on Monday that the owner had to take out the teeth to “really focus on the job at hand: Selecting a politician who will actually get something done and be effective – and not just be toothless.”

Needless to say, it’s going to take a real gumshoe to solve this mystery. So, if you have any leads – or are willing to work on retainer – please call the City Clerk’s office at 874-8610.

It’s unclear how long the city will keep the dental appliance, before disposing of it.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

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