Middle Class Problems: How to rationalise dental implants in times of austerity? Easy: the alternative is a denture

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The Independent Online

A dental patient undergoing implants can always spot another. No alcohol for two days at a time, a sudden fondness for soup, rice pudding and purées, and no money to spend on anything, ever.

If you offer your friend tickets for the hottest show in town, only a tenner, and she still doesn't bite, it's not because she can't really bite on anything with confidence, or because she's being stand-offish, or has suddenly lost interest in Damian Lewis. No, it's because all her money is going to a man who drills holes in her face and puts shiny new teeth where the worn-out ones used to be. She is paying down the dental deficit.

How to rationalise this agonisingly expensive, but otherwise relatively painless procedure, in times of austerity? Easy: the alternative is a denture, which will either fit so tightly that the patient, deranged by pain, will be cross all the time, behave irrationally, and end up in court; or loosely, therefore falling out and bringing shame on the whole family. Spouse and children will then have to leave the area and start a new life with new identities, and that's going to cost a whole lot more than having the implants. Even though you could buy a flat in some places for the same sum.

Sick of the subject, exhausted by dental crises – the crowns that fall out on grand occasions, the meals founded on pap – the family nods weakly in assent, of course, of course. No new clothes? No sweat. No holiday? No problem.

And so the treatment begins. And the family knows that for months on end, there will be no crusty bread. And no dough.