Red in tooth and claw

My bête noire has been the dentist’s assistant, now dental hygienist, and what they euphemize as teeth-cleaning. “Ah, our gums still don’t look good, do they, Mr. Roe?”

I’ve been doing this leeching for over 50 years and the only thing to change in that time is my having to do more and more of the work. What, they say, surely you brush your teeth at least twice a day now? You mean you don’t also floss? You are shoving wood and plastic splinters between every one of your teeth, correct? Why ever aren’t you using a water pick?

Where—I ask them when able—is that amazing tooth paste with a quantum jump in plaque/tartar reduction? That truly restorative mouthwash and its dramatic improvements? Those temporary teeth caps or permanent enamelization or something to stop the need for further blood-letting?

One—Half—Century of zero, nada, zilch. “The only option would be to sterilize mouths, Mr. Roe, and we can’t do, can we?” I suppose I’ve not helped matters by calling them Butcher Bob or such.

Laying there, I had an epiphany. Of course, the doctor-patient interaction is the sharp-end of healthcare, but what about healthcare’s strong-end?

The strong-end of healthcare is where reliability and safety reign. We know the manufacture of vaccines, compounds and medicines can be made reliable and safe, at least up to the point of injection or ingestion. In this way, failure in those processes is exceptionally notable (think: fungal meningitis contamination of pain management injections in the US)—precisely because failure is so preventable.

Now compare the pharmacist/prescriptionist responsible for ensuring the reliable and safe pharmacy with the dental hygienists and their free samples. We might as well be clawing away on two different planets.

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