In China, you can find dentists in street front shops among supermarkets and barber shops. Usually you can see right inside the dentist’s office through the plate glass windows and even watch people having procedures done. Generally people do not visit the dentist for preventative care, so dentists pull a lot of teeth.
On the wall of one dentist’s office in my town I saw a photograph of a dentist, dressed in white coat and even wearing a surgical cap, holding a model Chinese pagoda about 12 inches tall made entirely of human teeth.
I was horrified as I associated the photograph with the crazed doctors of Hitler’s Nazi Regime. I asked the people in the office (relaxing during their noontime rest) why the dentist did this. Their response was everything that I already knew simply by looking at the photograph, “He’s a dentist and has pulled many, many teeth over the course of his career. So he built that pagoda from the teeth to remember his years as a dentist.”
Yeah, but WHY? Again, the same explanation was offered. Yeah, but WHY? Okay, forget why.
I asked rather directly, “Don’t you think that’s disgusting? Or at least strange?”
With no emotional reaction at all, both people in the office answered, “No, not strange.”
O —- KAAAY…. am I living on the same planet as these people? Sometimes I feel that I’m a Vulcan or a Klingon in China. Why do I feel such a strong reaction to using human teeth in such a way and these people feel absolutely no repulsion or even curiosity?
I couldn’t wait to ask some of my Chinese friends about this. What a relief to find that they were equally as disgusted as I was. (So I’m not a Klingon afterall.)
Afterward my dental phobic imagination was picturing a dentist who evaluates my teeth on the basis of creating some craft in his back laboratory.
He says: “Oh, this tooth is really bad. It will have to come out. Let me help you pull it.”
But He’s thinking: “This tooth is perfect for that gap between the first and second levels of my pagoda! Mwaaaa haaa haaa haaaa……”