By Bev Schellenberg
The next time you book your annual check-up with your dentist, consider getting rid of a few wrinkles or puffing up your lips with a botox treatment at the same time. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to permit dentists to shoot botox into their patients’ wrinkles and lips, joining the ranks of dentists in the US and Europe.
Naturally, cosmetic dermasurgeons aren’t happy. Citing dentists’ inexperience, they encourage wrinkle-worn clients to consider that quickie botox courses don’t measure up to years of experience and extensive training. I’m inclined to agree; I’d rather my dentist was focused on what’s happening inside the mouth, not the lips and face that surround it. Even given the one-stop convenience of a check-up and facial treatment — similar to buying one’s groceries and clothes at a monster Wal-Mart — does anyone really want their dentist to expand services to include Bratz doll-worthy, mountain-sized lips or flawless faces?
Whether they’re under a pillow or sitting on the bedside table, teeth are an important part of our lives, and they deserve our dentist’s full focus. They mark a rite of passage, from baby’s first tooth, the first tooth left for the tooth fairy, the first lost molar, swollen and bruised cheeks courtesy of wisdom teeth extraction, through to teeth requiring root canals and caps, and partial or full extraction.
Admittedly, teeth are also important cosmetically. I’ve seen enough friends whiten their teeth, and enough TV commercials on whitening products, to know that society is obsessed with sparkling chompers lately. I’ve also watched enough “Style By Jury” episodes, thanks to my children’s latest TV viewing preferences, to know straight, white teeth make a colossal difference in appearance, while poor teeth are apparently mandatory to being accepted for a TV makeover. Veneers make all the difference between a closed-mouth smile and a dazzling Arctic-white smile.
Which makes me only happier that my dentist is focused on everything teeth, rather than botox-generated beauty. I find myself particularly grateful for his focus on my teeth rather than my laugh lines as I face my first potential root canal. Expecting a typical cleaning and fluoride treatment this past appointment, I was unhappy to have the dentist inform me that the pain I’m desperately trying to ignore is actually the result of a cracked molar. I can’t ignore it any longer. I’m encouraged by friends who describe the root canal procedure as “relatively unpainful,” and am buoyed by the fact that I am joining a large group of fellow teeth-owners who’ve survived the experience. And, in my attempt to block from my mind the expression “as enjoyable as a root canal” — which I’m hoping is a vast exaggeration of the pain of the procedure — I’m focusing on my dentist’s years of experience. I rest secure in the knowledge that his training and experience, specialized on the inside of the mouth, will assure me of that “relatively unpainful” experience.
You may have to start examining your friends and relatives more carefully. The next time you notice a hard-to-pinpoint improvement, don’t just say, “You’re looking good — did you have a haircut?” Add: “Or perhaps you went to the dentist?” However, if you decide to get something facial smoothed out or puffed up yourself, I suggest you find a proper dermasurgeon. Dentists may clamour to carry out potential corrections to our face and lips, but they have enough to focus on already: 20 primary teeth in our children’s heads, and 32 permanent teeth in ours.