Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Cost Of A Great Smile: Priceless?

During the artificially illuminated dark days of my life, when I used to sit in front of the glowing idiot box (tv), I had an unhealthy obsession with Regis Philbin.

We all know Regis, he of Who Isn't About To Become A Millionaire Other Than Me fame. Regis holds the Guiness Book of World Records title for the most hours spent in front of a television camera. No shit Sherlock, this is true...I've done some serious sleuthing to find that fact (okay, okay... I got it from Wikipedia). Steve Murphy, of the small trophy winning ATV evening news, is hot on Regis' tail, supplementing his nightly newsy appearances with the annual Christmas Daddy telethon. He'll catch Regis and become a broadcasting legend someday, I just know it. Unlike Smurfy Steve, Regis is a polished professional and he's got the teeth to prove it. This brings me to my obsession with Regis...

I can't stop looking at his teeth.

I dare you to stop any seventy-eight year old on the street, pry open their jaws and take a gander inside. Chances are you'll find tea stained teeth that look like both sides of a day old banana peel. Regis's teeth look so white and fake that I can only surmise that they are fake. I suppose they could be real and heavily bleached. Or they could be implants.

Heavily bleached. Implants. I'm sorry, somehow I've gone off topic. I'll save Baywatch for another posting. I'm ashamed to say, as a man, that I've never watched an episode of Baywatch. It's not that I don't enjoy bikinis fighting for daylight, it's more that I don't want to topple David Hasselhoff from the pedestal upon which I've placed him. How could he ever take his acting to a level higher than he did by portraying Michael Knight in Knightrider? How, I ask you? How! And wasn't that car of his, KITT, something special?

I bet Regis' dentist drives a Cadillac.

Teeth don't come cheaply. Braces cost about $5000 (my son's orthodontist drives a Jaguar). My son also needs two implants, which makes him a lot like many seventeen year old Valley girls, except in my son's case, I'm talking teeth. I'm also talking Silicon Valley, not Kennebecasis, in case there was any doubt. My son has two teeth that just never showed up for the party. Implant teeth cost about $5000 per nugget. Yikes! Who Wants To Be A Dental Surgeon?

So where do we draw the line on teeth and smiles? Should I spend $10 000 to get my son's teeth fixed, or should I buy some goats for a village in Mali which is more in keeping with my son's ideology? I can't fault him, he's pretty selfless. In a world where we try to find the greatest good for the greatest number, the goats have their appeal. So does a nice smile.

Two weeks ago I was at Pomodori in Rothesay, the Italian wood-fired pizza restaurant that I favour. Upon entering the establishment and approaching the cash register, Wendy and I were greeted by an attendant with a warm personality and a million dollar smile. The great teeth would have meant nothing without the smile, so it's not always just about the teeth, but teeth do matter. I'm sure that I wouldn't have have felt so warmly welcomed had the cashier exposed a mouthful of half missing, or tarnished Chiclets. I hate to admit it, but looks matter. My experience at Pomodori was great, even before the pizza arrived, and a lot of that had to do with teeth.

Does this make me a mindless puppet to the dental industry, or do teeth really matter? Do thirty-two teeth make you a better, or more successful, person than someone with just thirty. No! You won't have to gum down your pablum if you've got thirty teeth. A steak is still doable, but if your two front teeth are missing and you're not a professional puck eater, then you're going to be judged unfavourably for your appearance. You'll be judged by shallow westerners like me.

Will I buy the teeth, or get the goats? Right now it's 50/50 on the teeth. I feel like I'm adrift on a sea of indecision with regard to the importance of the perfect smile. I wish that someone would just throw me a lifeline of insight to help me out. Maybe I'll just phone a friend to ask for advice.

All I want is a few pearls of wisdom.

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