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The EVIL of orthodontics

Tuesday, 30 September, 2008

While most of are comfortable with the idea of cleaning our teeth or replacing them with dentures, we are troubled by the idea of mutilating our teeth with implanted braces for the purpose of “enhancing” our bite. It brings the threat of “designer smiles”, which most of rightfully find repugnant. We need to define a clear border between cleaning teeth and trying to improve upon our own teeth and those of our children.

We have crooked teeth for a reason, and should think very carefully about interfering with the natural order. John 1:3 tells us “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Teeth were made, and therefore God is made them. Further, we were made in the image of God, and for us to try to tamper or re-engineer that is hubris; for scientists and doctors to invent technology to interfere with His work is the most ultimate arrogance. Man must not play God.

This contemporary obsession with the ideal smile trivialises what makes us human. Human lives can no longer be meaningful. All of us get that great feeling when we, using hard work and dedication, overcome the limitations of our dentition and achieve something great. If our success was due to an artificially enhanced smile that we received as a child, would we get the same satisfaction? If we could just change our teeth on a whim, would we feel as good about fighting through jaw pain to finish a steak sandwich? Enough is enough – we need to stay human in this engineered age.

Furthermore, braces could lead humans to become something less than human. If the idea of Frankenstein’s monster, with metal bolts protruding from the neck, wasn’t scary enough, imagine a teenage girl with a mass of metal wires interwoven between her teeth, put there by her parents and her orthodontist who considered her natural smile to be loathsome. If the monsters of science-fiction should have taught us anything, it is that a brace-face will be monstrous to any decent human being. Repugnance is, after all, a very natural and very wise response.

But metal-mouthed monsters, a blend of human with machine, are just the thin edge of the wedge. What if we could have genetic interventions to enhance how teeth grow, and ensure that no child ever has to suffer a “bad smile”? What if we could use genetic engineering or nanotechnology to reform our teeth jaws at will, into fangs or tusks? The possibilities are so mindboggling that many think we will become post-dental being, with no jaws or teeth to speak of (those with braces, and retainers, have ‘transitional dentition’, or are transdental).

In addition, how can we justify research into enhancing our natural teeth when many in third world countries can’t even get their hands on enough food to chew with their teeth? It goes against social justice to be spending this money on enhancement, when that same money could be used to prevent the tooth decay and malnourishment that afflicts many children across the world.

The most disturbing possibility, however, of this enhancement of our pearly whites will lead to a severe form of coercion and a class divide. Those with smiles that fit our image of ‘the perfect smile’ will have a definite advantage in life over those with “crooked” teeth, and the ‘have-nots’ will essentially be forced to pay for the best dental work they can afford if they want to prevent their children from falling behind. Those who do have orthodontic enhancements will earn more money, which they will use to fund the orthodontic enhancement of their children. This will lead to the divergence of the human race into two groups: the perfect-toothed “Grin-Rich” (who will control the workplace, the media, the government) and those with natural teeth, who will be their slaves. Soon, all humans may not be created equal, and our inequality will be encoded into our teeth.

What if one day those with malocclusions are considered unfit to live, and prevented from passing on their genes for “bad” teeth? This is already starting, with many countries mandating that fluoride be added to drinking water, to ensure that all children have healthy teeth. How long before the same happens with orthodontic enhancement – when a smile unpleasant to the eye is considered so obscene that it must be eradicated.

So, if we want to stop dentistry and orthodontics leading us into a new eugenics, we need to act against dental braces. A line needs to be drawn between good and bad uses of dental technology, or we will enter a brave new world of dental injustice. A clear line, enforced across the world, needs to be in place between dental maintenance and repair, and orthodontic enhancement, or we will be forced to suffer the horrors of a post-dental future.

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11 comments

  1. Want to take bets on how many people miss the satire?


  2. Hahaha, just based on the comments you’ve left on my blog, I knew it was satire from the get-go. And I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when you started quoting the Bible and then said, “Man must not play God.” I’m guessing you don’t believe in God (I could be wrong), but, if nothing else, you definitely seem to have a desire to play God—from your peace of mind with deciding when life is worth preserving to your interest in genetic engineering (learned that from your About Me section).

    Since you are so interested in human genetics, I’m guessing you know who Francis Collins is, right? What do you think of his decision to be a Christian?


  3. I’m guessing you don’t believe in God

    You’re correct; I don’t believe in any god.

    I’m guessing you know who Francis Collins is, right? What do you think of his decision to be a Christian?

    I think his reasons are flimsy at best, and at worst they are illogical (bordering on insane, especially his story about his epiphany at a waterfall in the Cascade Mountains).


  4. satire at its best..nano-sense, nano-tech in ortho not fra off for details ref iostimes.com


  5. It is so refreshing to see there are still people out there that believe in individuality. Braces are just another form of plastic surgery. If you love your children you should embrace them for what makes them unique instead of teaching them conformity. It reminds me of a twilight zone episode where everyone has to change their face to look the same when they reach a certain age. It’s just creepy.


    • Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of anything that someone won’t mistake for the real thing. – Poe’s law


      • Some of you are talking about how this is being a satirical article. Do you realize the point being made though? Don’t brush it off as “satire,” realize the point that’s being made. I like Roxanne’s comment. What I have a problem with is parents who force children to get braces. Children should be able to choose, it should be the individual’s right, no matter the age. Same goes with circumcision. These are permanent changes that are occurring to the body, the parents have a duty to PROTECT the body of the child, not deform it.


  6. It’s good to see some of our elders have yet to be pulled into uniform genetics. I got orthotortured, as I call it, a few years ago, and I ended up pulling the freaking things out. I didn’t care what my peers said, I did it to be pure.

    I don’t regret wasting my parents’ money: it taught them a lesson on normality. However, I am bullied for having “crooked” teeth. But I don’t give a crap, as the bullies are the losers for having been reeled in to such a scandal. What sickens me about this: our parents and your children have been brainwashed into perfectionism.

    As a child in generation Y, I hate what our parents have done to us, and I hope that one of us can make it right in the near future through thought, wisdom, and scientific law-countering experiments.


  7. Wow, so was it wrong for me to go thru cancer treatment because God wanted me to get sick and die? I’m a dental hygienist and this kind of ignorance I come across a lot. Many people need braces to preserve the longevity of their teeth..enamel attrition, wear is common that destroys teeth early. If you look at our current diets-you’ll see why years ago people didn’t have as severe forms of occlusion a as we have today. This isn’t a matter of how God made us…it’s about how unhealthy our mothers were when they were pregnant a with us and environment. Even unhealthy habits like thumb sucking are to blame. Not God. He gave us intelligence to help others and build each other up.


  8. Hence, missed your satire! Now that I see the rest of your blog! Lol


  9. After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!



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