Lebanon Reporter

Columns

March 18, 2013

The tooth of the matter

I’m not the kind of guy who sits in front of the TV all night and fiddles the remote control, jumping from station to station, failing to watch any particular show for more than a few minutes. No, I am not just another one of those guys. I am THE guy. Everyone else is a pretender to the throne, although I don’t have a TV in mine. Some people don’t have a remote idea about anything. No one has more remote ideas than I do.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I went to get my teeth cleaned the other day and my hygienist slapped a shiny black gadget in my hand, pointed to the TV, and stuck a probe into my gums. This was too good to be true. Imagine watching “Law and Order” while slightly sedated, meaning it’s possible see a re-run for the fourth time and be surprised by the ending!

I fumbled with the remote, knowing that my wife could not chastise me for channel surfing; she could not castigate me for skipping right past “Downton Abbey.” I had, indeed, found heaven during a routine six-month visit to the dental office.

I flipped on the power switch, eager to see how many channels my dentist had subscribed to, wondering if he had opted for satellite, cable or dish. The man was a marketing genius. You can’t learn this stuff in dental school.

The TV came on. I pressed menu and gazed at my choices. It must have been a new service; I was unfamiliar with the programming:

ROOT CANAL

TMJ

BRIDGES

IMPLANTS

TEETH WHITENING

TONGUE PIERCING

DENTURES

Oh joy! Channels I had never surfed, horizons I had never conquered, buttons I had never pushed. This was potentially more exciting than the Fish Bowl Channel or the Backgammon Channel. It almost…almost…made the Golf Channel look boring.

But there was more.  Each channel had a submenu:

TEETH WHITENING

1. Symptoms

2. Diagnosis

3. Treatment

4. Prognosis

5. Payment

Movies within movies, stories within stories — a concept made popular by Shakespeare and reintroduced by Dr. Coleman of Noblesville, Ind.

I clicked on “Treatment.’” Frightening close-ups of bad teeth filled the screen; visual effects crawled over the monitor, turning a horrid set of pearly grays into a string of chicklets so breathtaking I was eager to see who the cinematographer was.

More close-ups — so close, in fact, that I never discovered who the actors and actresses were, but I know a good plot when I see one: men and women who neglected their dental hygiene, destined to follow a path down the yellow-toothed road.

My session was almost over, time enough only to surf one more channel. I clicked on ‘BRIDGES.’ I prayed it wasn’t some soppy love story about loneliness and isolation. No, it was not the “Bridges of Madison County.” It was the Bridges of Hamilton County. There it was, right on the screen:

Real people.   

Real stories.

Fake teeth.

I dared not weep, for fear my tears would suggest over-sensitivity of the teeth rather than of the heart. As I started to get up from the chair, Dr. Coleman bounded into the room. “Dick, I just looked at your X-rays. You have a cavity in your right back molar. I’ll need to fill it.”

And so he did. Dr. Coleman is a wonderful dentist. He did a great job filling my cavity. I can’t wait for the movie.

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