My grandad was a dentist. My cousin is also a dentist. I study medicine. And yet I’m on NHS Choices frantically working out why my tooth hurts. (and getting horrified by photos of terrible teeth)
We know very little about our teeth. I don’t know when teeth and gums divorced themselves from the rest of the organs and went off on their separate ways but it is a shame because the last time I had any official teaching on my teeth was back when I was 7 years old and in primary school. I think dentists and the field of dentistry is great. But isn’t the glorious oral cavity – the entry to the human GI system, still part of well – the human? Why is this not part of being a doctor? Why is dentistry its own vocation? Why did we draw the line with teeth?
Perhaps its because I have a toothache and am suddenly very aware of my aching teeth but I’m now trying to do all the things the dentists always tried to tell us to do. Here’s a reminder incase you also forgot:
- Brush teeth twice a day
- limit the sugary foods (this includes fruit, chocolates, juice and even bread!)
- go see the dentist regularly (last time I went was years ago)
Thing is in most countries healthcare is free. Take the NHS for example…if you have any kind of pain all you have to do is get yourself to the doctor and everything is fine. But for dental care you have to pay. You have to actually find a dentist and it’s a bit like looking for the perfect cake – you’re never satisfied because you paid for a particular type of cake and its not there. The point I’m trying to make is that dentistry is privatised and with it the sense of entitlement goes. And perhaps the state’s vested interest. If the government has to pay for our health then it is in the interest of the government to keep people healthy. Not so much the case with dentistry.
The second reason why I think the general public is so ignorant (like me) is because everyone for some reason seems to emphasise the importance of having ‘good looking teeth’. Now lets get real. Teeth are not meant to make you attractive. They’re purpose isn’t to bag you a marriage but to help you chew foods and remain healthy. So the idea that your teeth should be pearly white and straight is great; but also a bit misleading. They should also be cavity free, not have plaque on them, not be infested with bacteria and not developing gum disease.
Teeth are much more interesting than just providing you with a good smile. Look after them – they’re just as important as your heart, lungs or brain!