3/16/2007

When I am King: Dental Work Bites

When I am King...

We will all be toothless, by gum.

I spent part of yesterday getting a tooth repaired. Or, more correctly, getting the lower front of a part of a tooth painted over with something that looks to me like ... tooth.

It occurred to me, as I was sitting in the chair with a drool-sucking machine and enough tools in my mouth to supply a barn-raising, that we go to more effort to maintain our teeth than anything else in life, including our cars, our bodies, and our relationships. Between brushing, flossing, regular checkups, and catastrophic failures, we spend what I estimate conservatively as 1/2 of our waking time on earth taking care of our teeth. The only human activity that I've seen consume more time and effort is my son playing video games.

Meanwhile, my dentist is so busy with ongoing regular maintenance on my teeth you'd think she was a pit crew at the Indy 500. Sometimes it's work that probably should get done, like filling cavities the size of Krakatoa. Although even then, I fail to follow the logic of starting the operation by drilling to make the hole bigger before filling it, like she's trying to teach that tooth a lesson it'll never forget. But most of the time, the work is purely preventative, like putting sealant on. Or cleaning my teeth, which is pretty much like when I brush and floss them, only $80 more expensive. Or here's a new one for me: removing old fillings so that she can replace them with new ones. Like the other teeth are making fun of the teeth with old fillings.

And why do we go to this effort? Our teeth still hurt occasionally, they get filled, they get capped, they get crowned, they have roots pulled, and they eventually end up in tooth heaven, to be replaced by artificial teeth that probably work a whole lot better.

Meanwhile, dentists are constantly fixing our teeth, cleaning our teeth, providing preventative care for our teeth, and laying into us with the constant guilt about all of the stuff that we're not doing right to maintain our teeth at top working condition. If we did things right, we'd be brushing our teeth in our sleep and flossing all day at work. And still the darned things would fall out eventually.

We go to so much effort over these little things, we deserve a plaque.

If we spent this much time working on our cars, we'd have to figure out how to open the hood and fix the engine while we were on the highway to work every day. But the engine would drop out on the way every few months anyway.

It's time we got to the root of the problem.

Here's something to chew on: I propose that we all have our teeth pulled immediately, to be replaced by some material that is impervious to the ravages of time, like Twinkies, or the U.S. tax code. Maybe then we could get back to the business of simply eating. This might not solve all of our problems, but it might at least make a dent.
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