A Logical Solution
For ending the dental care crisis in America , alleviating the anguish of those persons burdened by dental ailments, ensuring the wellbeing of those persons who dedicate their lives to the industry, and making dental care an extensive benefit to the nation.
Examining himself in the bathroom mirror, a man slowly, apprehensively, opens his mouth so that both rows of teeth are fully visible, with dark, narrow crevices penetrating the smooth lateral surface of a mandibular molar, a plethora of cavernous rifts abounding in noxious bacteria, a sickening yellow layer of plaque imperiously extending itself over the pallid exterior of various teeth, inflamed gums glistening in an intense blood-red color ominously suggestive of infection, the microscopic yet potent minions of disease mercilessly destroying the healthful purity of the oral environment. No money. No escape. No hope.
Like this man who encounters the relentless face of illness each time he inspects his mouth, thousands of persons in America , both young and old, are helplessly forced to live their entire lives under the heavy burden of untreated dental disease and its severe complications. Skyrocketing dental costs make it virtually impossible for a large sector of the American population to receive proper dental treatment, and there is currently no financial aid system in place that effectively covers high dental expenses, leaving patients to fend for themselves in an increasingly hostile environment. Truly, America is in the midst of a dental conundrum that may lead to a catastrophic aftermath. As Dr. Albert Guay of the American Dental Association warns, untreated dental diseases are “chronic, progressive and destructive, and they become more severe over time” (Thomas, “Oral”). Disregarding or postponing the current dental needs of the nation can only result in an immense financial loss at a later point in time, when the widespread complications of dental ailments in the population will become far, far too hefty to ignore.
Thus, it is in the best interest of every self-respected, taxpaying citizen in America that this problem be dealt with immediately, nipped at the bud, so to speak. Whoever can resolve the nation’s dental dilemma deserves nothing less than to have a full-mouth makeover modeled accurately after the brilliant, alluring oral structure of award-winning singer, actress, and fashion designer Jessica Simpson.
My proposed solution, the product of over five years of meticulous research, careful data analysis, and profound tai chi meditation  in my office at Stanford University, has far-reaching benefits, not only ensuring a healthy smile at an affordable cost for a greater percentage of Americans, but also rewarding the men and women, both in the field of duty and behind the scenes, who make an effort to care for America’s teeth, undoubtedly the most influential teeth on the face of this planet. But a solution such as this one cannot be confined to a single industry. No, sir! I am deeply honored to present to you a plan with benefits that extend far beyond dental care so as to enrich our nation economically and culturally in addition to medically. Years from now, Americans will look back favorably on this moment as the genesis of a society genuinely belonging to the future, an efficient and versatile nation liberated from the dental problems that shackled it in the past.
The sensible plan that I have in mind will permit the American people to live their whole lives with healthy teeth at an unbelievably affordable cost, a price point that will be low enough for the most, shall we say, “tight-pocketed” medical insurance companies to subsidize and even for uninsured individuals to pay without sacrificing their financial stability.Furthermore, by introducing a novel method of dental care, my proposed solution will reinvigorate America’s consumer market and enhance our nation’s culture, while allowing dental practitioners and medical insurance groups to become more effective and perhaps even more profitable than they are now ‘” as impossible as this may seem. An improved degree of efficiency and profitability will ensure that dental care patients receive a tremendous value for their treatment. After all, dental patients and experts in the field both agree that “a nice smile and healthy teeth lead to success in one’s career as well as private life, raising self-awareness and motivation in individuals” (Chkhikvadze).
Under the current circumstances, however, exorbitant dental fees prevent a significant segment of the populace from receiving adequate dental care. The severity of the pricing crisis is most evidently shown by the fact that “between 1998 and 2008 the increase in the cost of dental services exceeded that of medical care and far exceeded the overall rate of inflation” (Thomas, “Oral”). In 2004, a full seven years ago, “[t]he average annual expense for a person with a dental visit was $612 for a person with private dental coverage, $326 for a person with public dental coverage only and $482 for a person with no dental coverage” (Brown). Amid these soaring dental costs, it should be of no surprise that in more recent times fewer Americans have had the financial ability to visit their dentist regularly for check-ups and treatment. According to a study conducted by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), twenty-two percent of American children ages two through seventeen did not have a dental visit in all of 2009, and for adults ages eighteen through sixty-four this value increased substantially to thirty-eight percent (“Faststats”).  With economic obstacles rendering dental care out of reach for so many individuals, the dental health of Americans noticeably suffers. The same CDC study discussed above reveals that, between 2005 and 2009, sixteen percent of American children ages six through nineteen had untreated cavities and twenty-three percent of adults ages twenty through sixty-four had untreated cavities (“Faststats”). As I brood over these alarming figures, my heart aches for those persons who must live each day with the pain and discomfort that stems directly from a gaping cavity.
Unfortunately, millions of Americans are suffering this agonizing fate because they lack the resources that are necessary to surmount the obstacle of high dental costs. Dentists, in an attempt to show the world that they place the health of their patients far above the value of any monetary compensation, are offering programs in which patients can pay off their dental bill in installments that may range over a period of five years, ten years, or twenty-five years ‘” for the convenience of their patients, naturally. As genuine and well-intended as it may be, however, the financing program offered by dentists comes nowhere close to meeting the challenge posed by sky-high dental costs. But dentists have done all they can. They can neither offer discounts nor accommodate every Medicaid patient that comes their way. Keep in mind, the dentists themselves are burdened with the monthly payments for their Porsches, and thus they must continue earning at least some sustenance. Even Jesus had to eat and drink in order to survive. As a spokesperson from the Washington State Dental Association puts it, “You can’t drive a delivery-care system on charity” (Thomas, “Why”). You see, a dentist absolutely cannot sacrifice his reasonable $180,000 salary,  or else he might fall behind on his lease, and his beautiful automobile might be impounded ‘” a situation that must be avoided at all costs.
Aside from their dentists, patients in need of financial assistance often turn to medical insurance companies, either private institutions or public programs such as Medicaid. Like the helpful dentists I have mentioned earlier, the executives of these organizations strive to ease the economic burden of dental patients (without, of course, overexerting themselves).Medical insurance companies create a dental fund so that their precious beneficiaries can have around $1200 to $1500 of yearly dental coverage (Thomas, “Oral”). This coverage suffices to pay for the expense of a couple of dental visits, each costing around $600, but it might not be enough to cover the cost of multiple cavity fillings or dental crowns, which can cost up to $300 and $3000 per tooth, respectively (Brown; “Cavity;” “Dental”). What about patients who need to visit the dentist more than two times in a year? What about those who need more than one dental treatment? Oh, those poor, forsaken souls! Nevertheless, the insurance providers have done all they can to help. What more can we expect from them? They are clearly not miracle workers. Even if the company chiefs did sell their Rolex wristwatches and auctioned off their Christian Dior briefcases, the insurance firms would still be unable to raise ample funds to cover the dental expenses of patients who exceed their yearly coverage. Many patients, cut off from urgently needed economic resources and support, are ultimately on their own as they struggle to obtain the proper dental care that is so vital to a healthy life.
My proposed solution, fortunately, has the potential to relieve patients from high dental bills , while reinvigorating the entire dental industry so as to terminate America ‘s dental crisis once and for all. Careful calculations and extensive research indicate that, if executed on a complete, national level, my plan would permanently bring each person’s yearly dental expenses well below $1000, give 99.8645% of Americans the ability to afford several dental appointments per year, and reduce the number of people with untreated cavities to a diminutive 0.0012% of the population. This is the sheer power of human logic and reason put to effective use.
The solution to the current crisis is quite simple, consisting of the creation of a new dental care system that tackles high dental costs in a practical and efficient manner. At the first sign of oral pain, cavity, or any other dental ailment, a patient will have all of his teeth extracted (painlessly, of course, thanks to the latest anesthetics). Once the extraction process has been completed, the patient will be fitted with a pair of custom-made dentures. The denture’s synthetic plastic frame will comfortably rest on the mucous surface of the mouth, and the porcelain replica teeth will bestow the wearer with a radiant, healthy smile that will literally last a lifetime. What is the price that the consumer will pay for a pair of these marvelous dentures? A mere $800.  If the patient’s insurance company is kind enough to cover these costs ‘” that is, as long as the money is not being spent on more important enterprises ‘” the full and genuine collection of the patient’s extracted teeth will be immediately shipped to the insurance company headquarters as a small token of appreciation for paying the denturization  fees. In order to accommodate the needs of this bright, new denture system, dentists will transform their practice into a specialized program of denture fitting, periodical maintenance, and repair. Since most dental practitioners have already detached themselves from the financial plight that afflicts so many of their patients, the task of detaching a patient’s teeth will surely be an easy one for dentists to accomplish. When the advantages of denturization become apparent, more and more Americans will choose to have their teeth extracted and replaced. Poor and rich, young and old, insured and uninsured ‘” before long, everyone will be wearing dentures. A new era of dentistry will dawn on us . . .
I readily acknowledge that the extraction of a full set of teeth may prove to be uncomfortable, if not slightly painful, for some patients, but I must emphasize the fact that modern-day anesthetics effectively reduce pain to a mere tickling sensation in the vast majority of medical procedures. Let me remind those who are skeptical of the denturization process that the consumption of substantial quantities of narcotics, as stated by MedlinePlus, has been scientifically proven to alleviate post-surgical pain ‘” this is a viable option to ease the extraction experience for patients with weaker constitutions (“Post”). Moreover, the extensive, long-term benefits of denturization far outweigh whatever small twinge of pain may be caused by the full-mouth extraction procedure.
And indeed, denturization will have far-reaching, positive consequences for the citizens of our beloved nation. Right from the start, the denture system will improve the oral health of Americans, forever eliminating most of the dental dilemmas that have overwhelmed humanity since the beginnings of time. Because synthetic plastic cannot develop infections and porcelain teeth cannot develop cavities, a patient that has been fitted with new dentures will never again be troubled by dental ills.
From a financial standpoint, the denture’s $800 price tag will make the new dental care system instantly affordable for a wide range of the American population, from those who have private medical insurance to those enrolled in public programs and even those who do not have insurance at all. More importantly, a denture-wearing patient will never again need to pay any significant dental bills aside from a minimal maintenance fee on occasion. I strongly emphasize the inexpensive nature of the denture system because patients will no longer suffer under the bone-crushing weight of colossal dental costs. For the first time in the history of mankind, a patient’s total annual dental expense will be low enough to be fully covered by the patient’s insurance.  The rather limited dental coverage offered by insurance companies and public programs, so worthless and utterly useless in the past, will actually be of value!
In turn, this situation will noticeably enhance the reputation of the dental divisions of our nation’s medical insurance companies. Dental patients and the public at large will not be able to ignore the reality that, with reduced dental costs, insurance coverage for dental services will be completely effective in making out-of-pocket dental expenses vanish for policyholders. The improved value of dental coverage will be accompanied by a dynamic boost in customer satisfaction ratings. Insurance firms will be happy. Customers will be happy. This, you see, is a win-win situation.
But the impact of denturization does not end there! The denture system will also spur the growth of the dental industry by improving the business of dental practitioners, who will profit from fitting and repairing dentures. As the entire populace of the United States adopts dentures, there will be new markets and new sectors of the population for dentists to explore. Denturization will provide dentists with millions of new customers, while the system of denture maintenance and repair will guarantee dentists a steady, six-figure income for years to come. The low price that will be charged for maintenance services will be offset by the unparalleled volume of customers that dentists will do business with. Some dental practitioners will even experience an increase in their already affluent annual income thanks to their exponentially expanded customer base. Clearly, the denture system will make it possible for dentists to afford a new Porsche model each year without the need to suck their patients dry.
On a broader scale, the denture system will have a considerable impact on America ‘s popular culture. How so? Well, as a major segment of the population becomes fitted with dentures, businesses and consumer-product corporations will realize the obvious market potential of the new dental care method and commence to develop designer brand dentures, deluxe dentures made of pure gold (to satisfy the rapper inside each of us), and even practical accessories such as oral wi-fi adapters and FM radio antennae that can be embedded into dentures. The emerging denture pop culture and its affiliated industry will positively benefit America ‘s struggling economy by necessitating the construction of new factories, fueling the growth of new businesses, creating new job opportunities, and encouraging vast consumer spending. Based on my own scrupulous calculations and on data compiled using Stanford University’s patented “Econo-impact” computer program, the denture industry will add approximately $900 billion to America’s Gross Domestic Product, which the Central Intelligence Agency estimates to be $14.72 trillion as of 2010 (“World”). As you can see, the denturization of America will provide a much needed financial boost for our nation, allowing us to maintain our worldwide economic dominance in the face of ever growing competition from foreign countries such as China and India .
How extensive will America ‘s new denture culture actually be? Very, very extensive, I tell you. Hollywood stars and fashion models will showcase the hottest denture trends in movies and runways. At sporting events, athletes will publicly wear dentures marked with the names of their sponsors. Technology geeks with salivate over the possibility of transmitting wireless signals directly from their mouths. As more people start using dentures, more people in America will have beautiful, healthy smiles. No one will feel left out. No one will feel ashamed of his teeth ever again. Once every resident becomes equipped with a set of dentures, even the nation’s toothless elderly will no longer feel like social outcasts. The United States of America , already one nation under God, will become one nation under dentures. In this way, a unified American culture will set itself apart from that of other nations. The radiant, new teeth of America will grace the cover of every international news journal, and America will reverently be given the official title of “Denturiest Country on Earth.” Long live America , the greatest nation in the world!!!!!!!
At first, this reaction may seem a tad on the histrionic side, but even the most composed individual would be unable to resist the electrifying thrill and excitement brought forth by the realization of the tremendous promise that my plan holds.I have thoroughly discussed the specifics of my solution with Professor Dan Toore, a dear colleague of mine at Stanford’s Socioeconomics Department who specializes in the field of mass-market consumer products. It brings me great pleasure to say that the seventy-seven-year-old professor (an active denture wearer himself) has repeatedly expressed his utmost approval for the proposed course of denturization. Just two evenings ago, as we were delighting ourselves with freshly brewed jasmine tea and delectable English crumpets in the comfort of my office, the ever eloquent Professor Toore said to me, “George, my good man, youh plan tickles my fancy. Indeed, you have kwee-ated what cehtainly will become a wehvolution not onwee in dentwistwee but in the Amewican way of wife as well. I am confident that dentuwization will hwelp many indiwiduals just as it has hwelped me. It will be an absolute twi-umph.”
Despite the expert support and the evident advantages of my plan, there will undoubtedly be those who prefer to take an alternative course of action in dealing with the dental crisis. Yes, the dental industry could encourage more people to become dentists in order to increase competition, reduce pricing abuses on the part of practitioners, and ultimately drive down dental costs. Yes, dentists could take a stance of compassion instead of ice-cold indifference toward their patients’ financial difficulties, they could begin offering more accessible payment options, and they could be more willing to serve patients with Medicaid. Yes, medical insurance companies could expand their dental funds to fully meet the needs of their beneficiaries and thereby bring the efficiency of dental coverage up to par with that of general medicine. Yes, the government could direct more tax revenue to Medicaid services so that an increased amount of resources may be channeled toward dental care expenses for low-income individuals. Yes, dental schools could create an internship program that requires students to provide dental service to underprivileged communities for a specific number of hours before being officially certified. And yes, patients themselves could engage in better dental hygiene practices to reduce the need for dental care in the first place. But all of these proposals are simply idealistic fantasies and nothing more if they are not conducted in a thorough, highly meticulous manner. What makes my solution stand out from the pack is its practical nature and its relative ease of execution.
As I developed the concept of denturization, I worked not for personal interests but rather for the general welfare of the millions upon millions of persons that reside in America . I must point out that I have nothing to gain from this plan, for I have been blessed with strong, healthy teeth and thus never been exceptionally burdened with costly dental bills. I am not a patient in need of financial assistance, nor a dental practitioner, nor a medical insurance company executive, nor anyone else who is likely to benefit directly from the denturization process. I am merely a concerned Socioeconomics professor at Stanford University , a humble citizen fully aware of his binding duty to serve the grand American nation. And as we now stand in the morbid shadow of an unprecedented dental crisis that continually places the wellbeing of our people in jeopardy, I modestly ask that you consider my proposal so that the teeth of America may have a brighter tomorrow.
 Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that combines physical movement and meditation to bring the “mind and body in harmony” (Anguang). As stated in “Tai Chi Meditation for Beginners,” tai chi meditation empowers the human mind by creating “a state of [ — ] calm clarity that allows [a person] to [ — ] reflect on whatever the mind is guided toward” (Hill).
 The included values were calculated from CDC data regarding the percent of individuals with dental visits in 2009, which was seventy-eight percent for children ages two through seventeen and sixty-two percent for adults ages eighteen through sixty-four. Each of these percent values was subtracted from a total value of one hundred in order to obtain the percent of individuals who did not have a dental visit. For more statistics about dental visits, see “Faststats.”
 This dentist salary value is based on the median yearly income for a general dentist in 2006. The median 2006 annual income for a dental “specialist” was even higher — a sweet $296,640. To better understand the significance of these income values, please consider the fact that dentists typically work “only four days a week or less” (Thomas, “How”). For more information about the income of dental practitioners as well as an earnings comparison between dentists and physicians, see June Thomas’s online article “The American Way of Dentistry: How Dentists Think.”
 This approximate cost was obtained by calculating the average price of a full set of dentures based on data provided by Philippe Lanctot in his article “How Much Does a Full Set of Dentures Cost?” which states that a basic set of dentures currently costs between $600 and $1000. For more information on denture prices, see Lanctot.
Denturization is the professional term referring to the process of fitting dentures into a person’s mouth. For more information on denturization and related procedures, see the medical article “Real Teeth Are Useless,” available in Issue 7340 of The Harvard Happy Lucky Wacky Oral.
 This statement is based on the $1200-$1500 average yearly dental coverage offered by America’s medical insurance companies. For more information on dental coverage amounts, see “The American Way of Dentistry: The Oral Cost Spiral” by Thomas.
Anguang, Sun. “Taiji, the Chinese Wisdom.” Taiji Academy of Los Angeles . N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. .
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“Cavity Filling Cost.” CostHelper.com. Hamster Internet Inc., Nov. 2007. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .
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“Faststats – Oral and Dental Health.” CDC. Office of Information Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Feb. 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2011.
Hill , Stephanie . “Tai Chi Meditation for Beginners.” eHow Health. Demand Media Inc., 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. .
Lanctot, Philippe. “How Much Does a Full Set of Dentures Cost?” eHow Health. Demand Media Inc., 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.
“Post Surgical Pain Treatment.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 28 Mar. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .
Thomas, June. “The American Way of Dentistry: How Dentists Think.” Slate. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC, 30 Sept. 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. .
Thomas, June. “The American Way of Dentistry: The Oral Cost Spiral.” Slate. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC, 29 Sept. 2009. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.
Thomas, June. “The American Way of Dentistry: Why Poor Folks Are Short on Teeth.” Slate. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC, 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. .
“The World Factbook: United States .” CIA . Central Intelligence Agency, 16 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. .