Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dental Ethics

After checking out my teeth, my dentist offered me a free cookie. He does this every time; the cookie is even packaged in a wax paper envelope that says "compliments of" his office. This is like when I went to the dentist as a kid and got to pick a cheap plastic toy out of the cardboard "treasure chest" after my exam. But a cookie? Isn't that sort of unethical? It's like getting a free pack of cigarettes from an oncologist.

The dentist also gives me a bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, so at least he's providing preventative tools (or to use my favorite term from the dental world, prophylactics*) to go along with my snack. If I'm going to practice good oral hygiene, I need to coat my teeth with sugar first so I have something to practice on.

Oh, ethics schmethics. Who cares? It was a tasty cookie!

* When I was a Boy Scout, I had a book that listed the requirements for every merit badge. One of the tasks for the Dentistry badge involved the word prophylactic, which gave me and my friends endless amusement as junior high schoolers (do younger people even recognize prophylactic as another word for condom anymore?). That's no longer part of the requirements, but this snicker-inducing gem in the current list dates back to my day:
With the help of a dentist, prepare a dental stone cast using a vibrator, a mixing bowl, a water measure, a plastic measure, model stone, and a spatula.
"Hey dad, I need a vibrator for my Boy Scout project."
"Check in your big sister's nightstand drawer."
After 25 years of picturing a large, whirring, realistically-shaped Doc Johnson product at the center of that project, I finally looked up dental vibrators online. Words cannot express my disappointment.

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