Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ABC's Wide World of Periodontics

Network television appeals to an older audience who remember the halcyon days when the big three dominated the news and the Oprah Winfrey channel was just a glimmer in Oprah’s mother’s eye. But if network television execs want to take advantage of its demographic, they should produce sitcoms, soaps and particularly reality shows based on dental themes. We had General Hospital and Marcus Welby, M.D. and Dr. Kildare, but we’ve had no series devoted to dentistry and its attendant arts, even though a dentist’s office is most likely the place where a majority of television watchers will spend their time and money over the last years of their lives. You may have decided to give up treatments for scads of chronic ailments, but if you have a toothache on your last day on earth, you’re going to the dentist’s office. Pain is a great motivator, and dentists reap their rewards from the discomfiture of rotting teeth—which are one of the most potent symbols of the body’s decline, along with the losses of memory, hair and libido. Think of it—dental soaps brought to you by toothpaste advertisers. How about ABC’s Wide World of Periodontics, narrated like Monday Night Football, with leading experts on gums? How about Sixty Minutes doing an expose on gingivitis or cavities? Everyone knows that tooth decay results from the failure to brush and floss (together with an insouciance about tooth care, a hubris resulting from fluoridation), but what really is inside a cavity? Is it literally a hole or cave, as the word suggests, or something more profound? And what about the radical technology that brought about implants and made dentures and denture creams a thing of the past?

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