By Noah Stern:
Dentistry. One of America’s oldest and most storied institutions. From George Washington’s dentures to Donald Trump’s crowns, dentists have been ubiquitous in this country since its founding. However, with prestige comes secrecy. The American dental industry is notoriously hard to get into, and even harder to understand.
Painstakingly, I worked my way up from the very bottom in order to deliver this startling exposé on the shadowy inside of dentistry. I applied to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, the best dental school in the country, as aspiring dentist Richard M. Teeth. My application was accepted and I spent a full semester undercover as Mr. Teeth.
I brought along a tape recorder to all of my classes in order to transcribe all of the insider information being shared throughout my time there. In my very first class, the professor didn’t show up until there were 15 minutes left. Here is the transcript of when he finally entered the room.
PROFESSOR: Hello everyone! Is that a new haircut? Wow, so everything looks good here. I’m just going to do a quick lesson myself and then we can get you out of here, okay?
PROFESSOR: Alright settle down. I just taught you all the first rule of dentistry. *writing on board* you don’t come in the room until the appointment is almost over. Everyone write that down, you don’t come in the room until the appointment is almost over. The hygienist will conduct the majority of the check-up. All you have to do is get in there with the hook thing and scrape a couple teeth then ask if they’ve been flossing.
Frankly, this professor’s demeanor shocked me to my core. The fact that he didn’t even know what his dental instruments were called raised quite a few red flags with me. What concerned me even more was the attitude of my classmates. They all were delighted by the professor’s lesson. Not one of them was bothered by his absurd lesson, in fact the student next to me expressed his appreciation for not having to “be near the teeth for too long” because he found them “yucky.”
I took another class halfway through the semester on the duties of the hygienist. Here is a transcript of one lesson.
PROFESSOR: Now who can tell me what is the most important function of a dental hygienist?
A FEW STUDENTS: Seeing if the patient is flossing.
PROFESSOR: Good. Now what is the golden rule of flossing that I explained yesterday?
SAME STUDENTS: Even if they say they were flossing, they weren’t. Patients are common bozos and are not to be trusted.
PROFESSOR: Very good. So, to prove this to the patient the hygienist must make the patient’s gums bleed to show that they have not been flossing. How do we do this? We press down real hard with the floss so the patient’s gums bleed ever so slightly. The hope is that they realize that they are pathetic idiot people that can’t even take care of their own mouths.
This was eye opening for me. My classmates were fully going along with everything the professor was saying. The corruption within all levels of the industry was truly startling. With every class I attended, I was exposed to another terrifying truth about being a dentist.
For example, there are actually dozens of different flavors of fluoride. When the office doors close at night, the dentist and his staff apply the fluoride solutions onto pastries and eat them! Dentists’ offices rarely run out of any one flavor. When the dentist tells you that they are out of everything but mint, it is because he wants to try the vanilla on his doughnut after your appointment.
As time went on, the dental community was starting to seem less like a shadowy cabal of medical elites, and more like a network of people desperately trying to keep their absurd methods away from the public consciousness. There is no better example of this than the Colgate incident.
In 1873, during the first years of the American Dental Association, Phineas G.C. Hunt was chosen to be the president. Known as one of the most ambitious dentists in the country, Hunt was quick to organize a partnership with the newest and most popular oral hygiene company at the time, Colgate. Unfortunately, a lot was weighing on Hunt due to the ongoing economic crisis at the time, the Panic of 1873. Although he was a strong businessman, his intelligence level was in question throughout his career.
The Panic greatly affected his moral state, as he had invested almost all of his net worth into the New York stock exchange. As such, Hunt was a shell of the man he was at the beginning of his presidency. One of the deals with Colgate was an order for a set number of toothbrushes to be distributed by ADA dentists to their patients. Hunt was only planning on ordering one million toothbrushes for the first year or two of the partnership, enough for all of the dentists across the country. However, Hunt made a grave mistake when filling out the contract with Colgate, accidentally ordering one trillion toothbrushes from them.
The contract was air-tight and Colgate is still providing cheap plastic toothbrushes for dentists to distribute now. Mathematically, Hunt’s mistake means that the ADA will still be receiving toothbrushes from Colgate for the next thousand years. That is the truth behind why you get a toothbrush in a little baggie every time you go to the dentist. A shameful error, hidden deep in the core of American dentistry.
The Milking Cat believes it is the duty of the media to spread the truth and root out injustice at every level of society. Now you know the truth about dentistry in this country, and I implore you, the reader, to push for reforms in the American dental industry. Or else I paid $60,000 in tuition for nothing.