Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pen Meets Paper Nov.1'10

Opinion by Helge Nome
Just about every friendly person I have dealt with in recent years invariably displays a perfect Hollywood smile. That in contrast to my childhood experiences of recognizing a person by the shape of his or her teeth, poking out, bending in or simply missing.
How did all this come about? I had a rather unique opportunity a little while ago, while attending a social function, to engage in conversation with a working dentist who does not have his own practice, and was prepared to voice his opinion on the “state of the art of dentistry”. One comment was that all the perfect smiles might not be all they are cracked up to be, at one thousand dollars a pop for teeth replaced. The resins used in forming these teeth are not all that durable, as it turns out. They are prone to shrinkage over a period of time, resulting in a tendency to migrate out of a person’s mouth. In contrast, silver/mercury amalgams are much more stable and durable. The main problems and risks associated with these are during removal when the drilling process creates vapors that contain mercury. However, this is mitigated by the mouth irrigation equipment that used to be a standard part of a dentist’s chair.
Interestingly my new acquaintance also pointed out that courses for practicing dentists these days tend to focus on the marketing of the new Hollywood smiles. So, would it be too much to conclude that the bottom line has become the main motivation for dentistry? In order to be socially “acceptable” in today’s world, you have to spend the equivalent amount of the cost of a new car. And in the stifling world of suits and ties and perfect smiles, you have to buy a Halloween grin with missing teeth in order to let loose. Or, for the better healed, get a Harley, leather jacket and throw you grey haired chick on the back and roar into the sunset. Hm.., I think my wife prefers the imperfect natural grin. It is a question of the bottom line.

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