Lately I’ve been spending quite a fortune on dentistry. There’s been a number of visits, and more to go it seems. I’m trying to be positive, and my dentist and I (and my credit card) have a great relationship. A high tech afternoon with drugs is not all bad. Despite all this, I have been wondering about our teeth – human teeth, I mean. I’m lying back, surrounded by thousands of dollars worth of high tech investment, and wondering if teeth have been an evolutionary cockup. Where is the intelligent design behind teeth?
Well, sure, teeth make it possible to gnaw off a nob of gnu, but, I wondered if we humans got the best option available. I’ve often though the turtle solution – hard beak-like plates with no crevices for decay was a good solution. Unclear how kissing would work. Or the shark model, where teeth are replaced, and are a variation on skin. Oops, sorry darling, razor burn. Exploratory nibble and all that…
I decided, begrudgingly, after considering how dentistry worked in the pioneer (and earlier) days – or how it might work when we’ve mopped up all the oil (some time next week), that perhaps the redundancy approach was not a bad solution. It’s dentition like the internet – one server goes down, re-route the food data processing, if necessary break it into smaller bytes, binary data streams, the remaining servers and then on to the CPU (Converter to PU). If a tooth was dodgy, take the biblical approach and pluck it out. King James said Matthew (18:9) said it: And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. See, even eyes can be redundant. We’ve got redundancy built in; er, left, right, and centre.
The redundancy does have some key-ness about it though. Thumbs are damn useful. Big toes are too. Earlobes appear entirely redundant apart from being fashion accessories; and as for belly buttons – well, other than for somewhere to put salt when you’re eating celery in bed, or cognac, if you’re serving drinks in bed, what are they about? Once you’ve been born they’re little better than a scar. Don’t even mention out-y belly buttons.
I guess the redundancy of teeth isn’t a bad solution. I do think the crocodile/shark replacement solution isn’t a bad one, although I admit the toothless grin of six year olds somehow isn’t as appealing on 60 year olds. But even that is less disturbing than finding one’s teeth, in a glass, on the bedside cabinet. And so, in a few weeks time, when I’ve got a second or maybe third job to pay for it again, I’ll spend an afternoon with Mary in her high tech throne room.