Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Confessions of a Star Wars geek dentist.

I have a confession to make.  I'm a self proclaimed jedi dentist.  My powers are pretty darn great, I use it for 'good,' and emotions are often set aside, traded in for discipline.

Star Wars.  Dentistry.  How could these two subject matters even remotely be related to each other?  For me, I have secretly lived in both worlds during work hours. With technological advances in dentistry, the gap between these two worlds is getting smaller.  You probably won't understand, unless you're a Star Wars fan AND in the dental field.  I'll try to explain.

My childhood in the early 80's meant that I, like so many kids, grew up with the Star Wars franchise.  We watched the epic space adventure with wide eyes and mouths opened.  And for many kids my age, Star Wars was the best move.  Ever. 

Fast forward about 2 decades later, I received my DDS degree from UCLA, and the advancements I've seen over the years have mirrored the technology found in Star Wars.  As the years progressed, I've been seeing more similarities.  Scenes from the movies that made no sense before, now makes perfect sense.  I've started making a list and here are some examples.

1.  It all started with placing crowns.  Every time I would seat a crown or onlay to get a perfect marginal fit and seal, I would almost hear the distinct sound of Darth Vader's helmet being vacuum sealed on his shiny bald head, with the orchestral Imperial March playing in the background.

2.  We have a 2 horsepower vacuum pump that suctions very well. It's powerful enough to suck up a cup of water in under a second.  It's so powerful that we sometimes suction cheeks, lips, and tongues away from their intended positions.  I have caught myself thinking, "The force is strong with this one."

3. Luke and Vader both have their hands severed off by light sabers, with NO bleeding.  I used to think there was no blood because of the coveted PG-13 rating.  Other fans have chimed in opining that this is because the light saber cuts and cauterizes at the same time.   Voila!  We have that technology too.  We have lasers in our office that can cut gingival tissue that cauterizes as it cuts.   

4. R2D2 beeps and chirps in a language everyone seems to understand.  I used to think, "C'mon, how can anyone understand what R2 is saying?"  In our dental office, we too have integrated many devices that chirps and beeps.  Take for instance the apex locator for endo procedures that chirps and beeps exactly when we are near, at, or beyond the apex.  Auto reverse, torque indicator, etc, with all distinct beeps and tones. I understand what they are saying.  Why thank you R2.

5. During root canal treatments on the upper second molars,  finding the mesial canal (and sometimes MB2) is extremely difficult.  It's sometimes impossible to see.   It's just like that scene where Luke is flying his X-wing and he's trying to drop photo torpedos into a tiny little shaft that leads to the core of the Death Star. Finding the canal is just like that (and just as narrow), and often, I sometimes close my eyes and use tactile senses with Obi Wan urging me to "use....the... force..."

6.  Chewbacca.  Everyone seems to understand what he's saying too.  As a child, I never knew what Chewie was saying.   When patients in the supine position try to talk with water in their mouths, they sound exactly like Chewbacca.  You know, the guttural, gurgling sound. And yet, I have learned to understand what they are saying fairly accurately.  

Am I alone in this thinking?  Do you have any correlations, connections, or general stories? Please share your thoughts.   In the meantime, may the force be with you.