The path of the naturalist dentist is an untrodden one, at least in recent centuries, and outside the experience of those who do not have it thrust upon them (remote villages, castaways). But tread it I have, for I can no longer abide the foul chemistries and synthetic arrogance performed for the sake of retaining a few lumps of calcium long past their honest lives. Call it an arrogance of my own, but there must be a way that will not remove us from the natural order of the world. For the past few years I have been attempting to forge a new set of principals for the alternative dentist.
The most pressing issue has been fillings. After removing decay around the cavity using my hand-driven dental drill, I must of course find something to fill the hole with. Experimentation in this area has been long and arduous — for my patients almost as much as myself.
I began with porridge, reasoning that there was nothing so hard in the world as porridge dried to the rim of a pot after leaving it on the sideboard for a few hours. It could be packed in fresh from the bowl, and then the patient was to sit quietly for a half a day or more until the filling had set. I also experimented in a number of cases creating whole false teeth by shaping dried porridge into molar shapes.
This attempt was not so successful as I had hoped. Surprisingly, the porridge filling, while often remaining in place for weeks or even months, allowed decay to continue below to the natural tooth. It’s sealant properties were no more than an illusion. Other materials tested and found in inadequate to the task have been lime mortar (with strands of horse hair added for strength, a neat trick of the Ancient Greeks), baked clay, glass, pigeon shit. Gold is, of course, the best natural filling available, but my clients can’t afford it.
Complete replacements are my other great challenge. The carpenter has been helpful in carving me a few sets of wooden false teeth. These are effective but prone to decay after a winter of tough jerky. A working set of human teeth can also be fashioned from select sheep extractions, but the results are, I’ll be the first to admit, profoundly hideous.
I am reluctant to administer anaesthetics. My clients are often reluctant to accept this. ‘How much more beautiful to experience this transformation free of a drug-induced cloud?’ I reason. When reason fails I resort to a number of pain-reducing measures. Most successful has been smothering to induce temporary loss of consciousness. I also have a selection of hammers in a glass case on the wall. These have had mixed results.
Patients have been generally resistant to my methods, but we live on a remote island in which I am the sole practitioner, so there has only been a small drop in my business. Those that have stopped coming can only, I imagine, be taking matters into their own hands, which is very sad. I am disturbed to picture my former clients taking pliers to an aching premolar rather than coming to my office. Qualified professionals exist for a reason.