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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One out of Five Dentists

I always wondered about the fifth dentist. According to years and years’ worth of Trident commercials, “four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” This seems like a pretty tame advertising claim. You’d think that five out of five dentists, when pushed to offer a recommendation for patients who already chew gum, would suggest sugarless gum, the whole “sugar causes cavities” thing being pretty much age old and without dispute even among the laity.

So I like to imagine that fifth dentist and what might motivate this oral hygiene professional not to recommend sugarless gum (to patients who plan to chew gum anyway). Maybe this dentist just has a good head for business. After all, more sugar means more decaying teeth, which means more fillings, crowns, root canals – the butter of the profession. Routine checkups and cleanings don’t pay the mortgage, after all. But I prefer to imagine that the dentist in question has more philosophical reasons for failing to steer patients away from Juicy Fruit and Bubble Yum. So, in the spirit of April, the cruelest poetry month, here is my vision of the fifth dentist, conveying his or her cynical rationale for an iconoclastic survey response…

One Dentist out of Five

Live it up, for the love
of Christ, if you’re going
to chew gum. The sugarless
crap’s like plastic. No juice.
You don’t brush three times
or floss once a day, so I’d say
you’re in for trouble with those teeth
anyway. What’s a bit of sugar in your
bowl now and again? I’ll let you in

on a little secret: we’re all in
for it sooner than we expect.
Look around: the ice is shrinking,
sky pulling open, gaping in places,
drinking water’s getting scarce
and soon the Coca-Cola Co.
will be selling all of us the daily
cup that keeps us afloat, in life.
We simple sane folk go about
our business while the mad for greed
and glory have their mittens on every
bad button you can name, and some
you don’t even know about.

Forget the teeth, the bones.
If you make it that far, feel blessed
and join the crowd of stooped,
stub-toothed masses limping into
history amazed to still be
using the busted hardware
they were gifted with long,
long ago.


So happy April. And just so you know: I recommend sugarless gum. For my readers who chew gum, that is. Those of you who don’t chew gum may continue on as usual.


Blogger Lisa said...

That needs to be set to music!!! I love it.

Surely you've seen the ad campaign where they have the 5th guy getting knocked out or fainting or something right before it's his turn to vote?

12:25 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

I like to imagine The Fifth Dentist to be a gnome-like creature, hiding in the shadows with his rotted-out teeth and his pockets filled with sugared-up gum.

I think Johnny Depp would be perfect.

1:13 AM  
Blogger E. said...

I have not seen that add campaign, but I would love to!

Yes, Johnny Depp. Kind of a dirty verison of his creepy Willy Wonka.

2:42 PM  

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