What looks like narwhal swordplaying could actually be a communal way to keep teeth clean. ©From the video “Narwhal Tooth,” Wild Chronicles

“You wouldn’t mind my red nose?”

“Not if you don’t mind me being a dentist.”

And so begins the adventure of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and one of Santa’s elves, a dentist wannabe named Hermey, in the classic 1964 TV special titled for the reindeer.

Of course, we all know how the story ends. Hermey removes the teeth of the fearsome Abominable Snowmonster, and the reformed “Bumble” becomes a friend to all.

This young, male narwhal was found on the banks of the river Scheldt near Bornem, Belgium, in April 2016. The skeleton, which is on display at Belgium’s Ghent University, clearly shows the animal’s spiral tusk (or tooth). ©Pcornill, Wikimedia Commons

I thought about Hermey when I read about a Connecticut-based dentist, Dr. Martin Nweeia. While Hermey may have realized his dream of becoming a dentist by practicing on a Bumble, Dr. Nweeia’s “patients” may be even more fantastic: narwhals.

Watch the following video from the National Geographic Society that aired on the TV series Wild Chronicles. In it, Dr. Nweeia travels to the Arctic to attempt to discover just what function a narwhal’s nine-foot tooth may play.

As I’m sure Hermey would attest: sometimes even the wildest of dental dreams can come true.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,