You spend the first half of your life working for your mortgage company,the second half for your dentist. Like most Englishmen I resent my dentist. The NHS has meant we pay nothing up front to our doctors and our hospitals but increasingly dentists have gone private. There is gold in them there teeth.They are in it for the money, like estate agents or lawyers what they do as professionals has no moral compass but a market point.
So I dont take them seriously. When they ask me how much I drink I tell the dentist its none of his/her business. When he /she moans about my previous dentist I know this will lead to more treatment and a higher bill.
For some years I have been going to a Hong Kong born dentist. Last week she started feeling my jaws, almost giving me a head massage. I asked why are you doing this. Five years I have been coming twice a year and now you have started doing this.
She replied, we are now trying to be more holistic, looking at the complete patient. My heart and wallet sunk. The invoice was rising. The complete patient? Well I said I have a pain in my foot should I take off my shoe? The Chinese are not famous for their sense of humour-its probably why they went Communist.
Later we talked of the fact her practice had been bought out. Why? For the good of the patients, so we can invest in the new technology and up to date premises. But surely you have made money out of selling out. You did not come from Hong Kong to lose money? You have done well out of dentistry?
She then told me that my gums were poor and over the next few years I would lose teeth? Did I understand ? Yes. Do you really understand. Come on honey. Do I know I am growing old and when that happens teeth go, do I know that I am going to die.
Typically, no doubt because of the takeover, my check up/clean bill was thirty percent more than last time. I always a remember a piece in John Updike’s “Couples” when the dentist talks of the depressing nature of his job being driven by the fact that all his sees is decay. The bill is the dentist’s revenge for a life time of smelly breath, rotting enamel and black holes. Aint life grand?