An appreciation for my dentists


The most impressed I have been by academia in many years is in the dentist chair of the university dental clinic I frequent. I had almost despaired of the baloney on the radio that passes for erudition and receives the fawning respect of our local public radio host. A recent example was an interview with author Daniel Bergner, who wrote What Do Women Want? When the host timidly suggested, with a string of careful mitigating disclaimers, that there might be a tiny something to the traditional idea that women are the better-suited gender for staying home with the children, Bergner smirked condescendingly and proceeded to disabuse us of hackneyed stereotypes.

According to Bergner, that old distaff view of women has no scientific evidence to back it up. In fact, he said, it may well be that the evolution of society would have fared much better if women were more promiscuous. That way there would be less fighting among males over paternity questions. (I kid you not.)

At some point on the program, another sex expert joined Bergner and the host for a three-way conversation, in which terms like “photostimulous” and “natural modalities” and “evolutionary psychology” were bandied about—all terms borrowed from the hard sciences by wannabes of the bogus sciences.

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So you can see why it was so refreshing for me to sit back in the dentist chair under the glaring operatory light and next to the suction tube and hear over my body conversations like this:

“Is she asymptomatic?”

“Yes, there’s no secondary infection.”

“How did you diagnose it?”

“Radiographically. It presented as a well-defined radiolucency around the crown of the impacted tooth. … Doctor, what does the size of the lesion usually depend on?”

“The duration of the lesion or presence or lack of infection.”

“I see. How do you suggest we treat it?”

“Surgical enucleation—in the case of a mandibular third molar, the impacted tooth is extracted at the time of enucleation.”

“What about the case of a maxillary canine?”

“Then the cyst may be removed or marsupialized. The tooth may be saved and brought into proper alignment.”

Ah! Reality.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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