You know how your mom always warned you not to use your teeth as tools? Turns out Mom was right. Again.

You know how your mom always warned you not to use your teeth as tools? Turns out Mom was right. Again.

My two front chompers were involved in a little breaking-and-entering endeavor Tuesday evening. It was minutes before the final (thank God) presidential debate when I clamped down on the plastic band hermetically sealing a container of Trader Joe's dark-chocolate almonds.

One good bite, a hard tug, and the band gave way with a satisfying pop. But something flashed across the peripheral vision of my left eye. And a strange tinkling sound followed as something skittered across the kitchen floor.

"What wath that?" I queried the resident puddytat.

My tongue discovered the reason behind the sudden lisp — a huge gaping hole where my left central incisor formerly resided. I bolted for the nearby mirror, bared my gums in a grimace, and tentatively touched the stumpy little remainder.

"Yiketh!" I yelped.

Thanks to an eons-ago root canal, I was feeling much more angst than pain. Good thing considering it was way past dental-hours. I smiled with relief, and the world's oldest first-grader gazed back with a decidedly goofy grin.

"All I want for Chrithmath ith my two front teef," I sang.

My two parrots chimed in with glee. Squiggy bolted for the bedroom. Every cat's a critic.

I scanned the floor for my missing toofer. No luck. Clearly my sainted mother had hidden it — from beyond. So I did what I always do these days when my life turns into a bad sitcom: I posted a FB status update.

"I know everyone is all engrossed in the final presidential debate ... but I just managed to knock out one of my front teeth ... ."

My friends rallied. And razzed. Did Snagglepuss McGaptooth need a ride to the ER? Hadn't I been warned about opening beer bottles this way? Got Crazy Glue?

There were also several photo requests in the nearly 100 comments. Nothing doing. I may be partially toothless. But I'm not totally stupid. I'd learned that lesson about posting unfortunate photos the hard way after sharing my sleep study image with a pal. My electrode-covered mug is now my contact image on her cell. She laughs hysterically every time I call. Nice.

I did, however, post a picture of the giant tooth once I retrieved it from under the kitchen table the following a.m.: "Good news: I found my front fang!"

I was hoping to catch my pals eating breakfast. Mwahahaha! Turns out they're made of sterner stuff than I'd imagined. Or maybe they're simply immune to my grisly self portraits.

"Taken up hockey as a new hobby?" said one friend. "Just keep your lips together around small children until you get your brightwork back in order," opined another pal.

An aviator friend reminded us all I'd gone through this busted-tooth business a month or two ago. Seems I've been grinding my teeth in my sleep lately. Apparently, one can do significant structural damage when they're snoozing. But at least that one was a molar and more easily hidden from view until repairs could be effected.

Speaking of men in white coats, of course I called my oh-so-gentle dentist's office as soon as it opened.

"I broke off my front toof," I said. "Can you pleath get me in?"

Dr. W., along with his entire staff, were taking the week off, chirruped the woman on the phone.

"All week?" I squeaked. "Nooooooooooo! I look ridiculuth!"

The front desk staff took pity. My tooth and I arrived for our appointment with one of the dental partners that afternoon, prompt and grateful.

"How may I help you?" asked the cheery receptionist.

I smiled. She did too. Big.

"Oh! My goodness!" she said, with a chortle. "Well, at least it's Halloween!"

Even the substitute tooth wizard laughed when he saw my gap-toothed grin. He immediately went to work drilling, splicing and splinting. My smile was thumbtacked back into relatively normalcy with the speed of a dental M.A.S.H. surgeon.

But it's a temporary fix until my regular dentist returns, he warned. No caramel apples, he advised, before channeling my mom. "Stop using your teeth as pliers!"

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email