No Crocodile Tears

05/26/2015 08:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2016

A piece of advice. Do not try too hard to outlive your teeth.

Yes, you want to live as long as you can think straight and enjoy what you can do. But, if you live longer than your teeth can serve you, you are in for a couple of unexpected 'treats.'

Treat one is more drilling, jerking and probing in your mouth than you probably had in all your previous years.

Treat two is you have to pay for it. And, at an average of about $5000 a tooth, even if you are lucky financially, you will notice the dent in your bank account.

How is all that possible?

First, we have come a long way from George Washington's wooden teeth. Now they know how to drill into your jaw bone and put in a steel pin on which they build a porcelain tooth better than nature's own.

Second, it used to be that good dentists did everything necessary. Now there are periodontists, orthodontists, endodontics, oral surgeons and they hand people around like passing the hat in church. As you open their doors you do not hear a chime but the ring of a cash register.

Do not get me wrong, I really like the people who work in my mouth. But, I have begun to wonder how the relative value of their services has risen so rapidly in recent years that a lot of them are now working 3-day weeks and 6-hour days.

Indeed, I favor gifted and well trained professionals being highly valued in modern society. That applies to lawyers, medical doctors, dentists and other practicing professionals.

And, indeed there are various forms of competition in those professions. One can almost always find a cheaper person. But, the risk of the uncertainty related to saving a little money outweighs risks to your health and welfare. That reality crimps the effect of competition on prices in the medical world.

While I do not expect or want crocodile tears from anyone, I do wonder if there may have slowly and subtly been something like antitrust activities at professional gatherings where the crocodile teeth have chewed their way into the numbers that are being attached to removing teeth, implants and creating new teeth.

I have no complaints; just questions.

To begin with for some unexplainable reasons very little reasonable insurance covers our mouths. Why are our mouths less precious medically than the rest of our bodies, ex purely cosmetic help? If we cannot chew and eat properly, we become less health overall.

What harm would come from more transparency.

I grant that it is important that those professions need to earn enough to continue to attract coming generations of young talent and that factor must be central to these issues.

Please take this message only as a light hearted but gentle nudge to our professional friends to beware possible challenges from government lawyers, despite the fact that these issues have stayed under the radar for a very long time.