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Dentists are free to return extracted teeth to patients

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QUESTION: My husband went to the dentist recently to extract a tooth filled with gold. He asked for the gold tooth back, but the dentist refused to give it back. He said there was a law that doesn’t allow the tooth to be returned to the owner because of “hepatitis concerns.” We find this explanation lame because all our friends have gotten their extracted teeth back. What law is this dentist referring to? Do we have a right to ask for it back? After all, we paid a good price for it when it was done.

ANSWER: We’re told there is no such state or federal law.

A dentist can return a patient’s own extracted teeth but may not give the teeth to anyone else. The unclaimed teeth are to be destroyed as medical waste.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding “Infection Control in Dental Settings,” dentists may return extracted teeth to patients upon request.

Extracted teeth are not subject to the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

However, if extracted teeth are being discarded, they are then subject to OSHA’s disposal requirements.

For more information, see

If a dentist refuses to return an extracted tooth for whatever reason, you can file a complaint with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Regulated Industries Complaints Office, or RICO.

RICO is the enforcement arm for more than 45 professional boards, commissions and programs, including for dentists and dental hygienists.

It investigates complaints about alleged possible licensing violations, such as professional misconduct, misrepresentation, poor workmanship, substance abuse or operating without a required license.

Call 587-3222 or go to

On the Diamond Head-mauka corner of Ala Wai Boulevard and McCully Street, there are palm trees in planters and in the ground that are dying, brown and tattered. They appear to not have been watered for months, look terrible and are an eyesore on a busy thoroughfare leaving Waikiki. Can you please help the plants get some TLC before they are too parched to be revived?

The poor palms looked so bad because they hadn’t been watered for a while, because valves and timers on water sprinklers “apparently” had been turned off during recent construction.

Then, some of the sprinkler heads were broken and had to be repaired, said Louise Kim McCoy, the mayor’s press secretary.

However, the watering of the palms has resumed and the sprinkler heads repaired, according to the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

“They should all be working by Monday,” Kim McCoy told us Friday.


To everyone who helped when my husband, Ron, was involved in an accident at Kawaihae Street and Hawaii Kai Drive around noon, Tuesday, Aug. 30. The front of his car burst into flames. While he was dazed, people helped him out of the car. Mrs. Ellen Arakawa settled him into a chair to wait for emergency crews and gave him her cellphone to call me, and the driver of the truck that was hit helped redirect traffic. A mere “thank you” to those who initially came out of their homes or cars to help seems so inadequate. It takes courage and a deep caring for humanity to approach a burning car to render help. We are so very grateful. Also, thank you to all the emergency crews who responded so quickly. You are all a godsend. We pray that peace will follow you all the days of your life. — Mrs. Betty Ching and Family

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