Mental health: eating disorders affect more than the mind.

I take care of my mouth.  I brush twice a day.  I floss.  I don’t floss EVERY day, but I floss most days.

I just went to the dentist and found I need to have about $1,600 worth of medical work done.  Writing’s great, but it’s not the kind of high-paying work that makes that type of bill painless.  Why does someone who takes care of his teeth need that kind of procedure?

Simple: for three years, give or take, I didn’t eat enough.  And when you don’t provide your body with enough nourishment, it eats away at stuff like muscles and organs.

So, if you know someone you suspect might have an eating disorder, bear in mind that it’s not a matter of helping them before damage gets done.  The damage is getting done, and it’s going to keep getting done until they get better.  This, and more, was the price of being “thin” for me.  It’s amazing what damage we’ll do on the backside to alter the parts of us that people actually see…

And on top of that, the dentist asked what I did for a living.  I told him and he let out a dejected “Awwww, man” and proceeded to tell me I should watch a movie called The Star of Bethlehem and that once I start looking at all the evidence it’s hard not to believe it.  Yeah, like I haven’t been told that by every Christian I’ve turned around and destroyed.  Proselytized to…at the fucking dentist’s office.  Welcome to small town, Arkansas.  “Yeah, your mouth has some problems.  Did you know the creator of bacteria loves you and that all of his creation is perfect?”

I felt like saying “Look, if the human body were intelligently designed, your profession would be unnecessary.”  But I didn’t.  God has the power to rise from the dead, but not to conquer gum disease.  Sounds legit.  I normally cultivate a healthy level of cynicism and anger which, I feel, motivates me while not impairing my judgment.  When it gets to be more than that, I tend to clam up and, after receiving the news about my gums I was not in the mood and decided that I’d rather err on the side of silence.

Next time, Gadget…

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • TGAP Dad

    I cannot emphasize this enough: get a second, independent opinion on the state of your dental health and possible restorative services needed. I have been down this path several times with my family – including three kids, two of which are now grown – and there’s easily ten grand I did NOT spend, because I didn’t follow the advice blindly and got second opinions.

    • eric

      Yes, second this (or third or fourth it). It really doesn’t matter whether he’s religious or not, small town Arkansas or not, liberal, conservative, blue, green, old, new – getting a second opinion for expensive, invasive procedures is pretty much always a good idea. He could be your twin brother who agreed with you in all things and saved you from a bullet in the war – and I’d still say, get a second opinion.

  • Saganite

    Yeah, what the hell does a dentist know? So the first lesson in economics comes home to roost. The second one is just around the corner, then the other and then the next. You can still write, but it’s a big mistake to depend on it for a living as you’re finding out. Success rate is approximately 5% and only if you’re lucky. My first unexpected expense of the new year came in the form of a car wreck with only liability. $5,000. It never ends. Happy new year.

    • Azkyroth

      …what the fuck?

  • Peggy

    I like the idea of getting a second opinion. I didn’t have an eating disorder, but there was a period of my life when I neglected my health, including my dental health. I had some pretty extensive gum disease–and it was dealt with for a lot less money than that. Of course, I don’t know if your issues were anything like mine–but get a second opinion anyway.

  • Sam Grover

    I would recommend that 2nd opinion. Also, if you live anywhere near a university with a dental program, sometimes they do work for less.

  • otrame

    Second opinion is a good idea any time you are being asked to spend a great deal of money.

    Of course, if you have the morals of a stoat, you could let the dentist think he was getting to you and maybe he’ll be eager to prove how Christianity makes a person all happy and generous….


  • ChrisP (aka Gamesh)

    $1.6k, muscle and organ damage… would I be in the right train of thought to assume you need a gum graft or something similar? (My apologies are offered if this question is a bit rude).

    Whatever the medical work required is, best of luck, both in finding a competent surgeon or whatever, and in any recovery needed thereafter.

  • Sam

    I too was pr0selytized to by my dentist, just two months ago. It started as a lecture about not being married, and then about why I should go to church. And he made sure to do it while he was working inside my mouth so I couldn’t respond to his little comments.

  • Rovin’ Rockhound

    Man, that sucks. The smell of dentist gives me nightmares.

    If you don’t have dental insurance, look into the discount plans. I had to get some stuff done plus get my wisdom teeth out this summer, and it would have been $$$ otherwise. I had Ameriplan – getting off was a bit of a pain (had to email, call, and mail the cards back), but it was really easy to use otherwise. Different dentists take different plans (or none at all), so you do have to check. I managed to go to one of the nicest, cushiest dentist offices in town, though, and pay the same I would have at the chains.

    The oral surgeon from the wisdom teeth said that I needed two bone grafts or I was going to get huge holes in my jawbone where I had root canals (old bike crash). Then he said that if I didn’t do it immediately, I would need head CTs (at his office! in his new machine!) every 3 months. An oral surgeon friend (and my regular dentist, and the interwebs, and Google Scholar) said he is full of it. One of the spots is already 15 years old, and somehow I have survived.

    • Azkyroth

      Reminds me of a gum disease treatment I had which A) included about $700 worth of something involving antibiotics administered via “microspheres” which B) weren’t discussed with me until my mouth was already numb and I couldn’t really argue. I really should have taken some sort of legal action. >.>

  • Loqi

    The argument from gingivitis works every time.

  • John Horstman

    I’ll join the second opinion chorus. I know FtB has followed this particular rabbit hole before: doctors don’t tend to be the best scientists (or scientists at all – they need to take certain science classes, sure, but they are to biologists as engineers are to physicists). A lot of them actively recommend baseless woo as treatments. As your dentist is also engaging in professionally/ethically questionable behavior by proselytizing to you, his trustworthiness drops even lower. (I’ve had both an orthodontist and oral surgeon straight-up lie to me to convince me to get work done I might have opted out of otherwise. Sadly, suing them seemed like WAY too much work, and the lack of actual negative outcomes made my potential cases weak. Side note: permanent nerve damage from wisdom teeth removal is WAY more common than either my or my roommate’s surgeons told us. Push them for actual numbers, and then sue the hell out of them if they lie and your wind up with damage.)

  • Anonymous

    JT, sounds like you have some major anger issues. Of course you are welcome to your opinion as well as whoever your dentist is. He probably told you what he thought you needed not that you had to do it. If Im not mistaken you made the appointment and choice to have him look at your mouth and give you his opinion. Second opinions are usually a good thing but bashing someone for giving you their “educated” opinion is not cool or fair. As far as him “proselytizing” his religios views on you what do you think you are doing everytime you write something. Really? And you “turning around and destroying them” is a matter of opinion as well. Yes God can do anything even cure gum disease but why would he want to when all you do is try to convince people he isn’t who he has proven over and over to be. Stupidity and arrogance on your part. Everyone sins and believe me there are hypocrite and corrupt people that claim to be christian, but I can tell you one thing, I hope you discover the “truth” soon because when Jesus does come back and your standing there with a “deer in the headlights” look on your face, may he have mercy on you because if he doesn’t he will “Destroy” you. God Bless and have a blessed and enlightening year in 2013!:)

    • Loqi

      It sounds like you have some major thinking issues. JT made the appointment for a dental exam, not for the dentist to tell him he needs to find Jesus. And at no point did he bash the dentist.
      ” Yes God can do anything even cure gum disease but why would he want to…”
      Well, supposedly he’s omni-benevolent, and that’s what a good person would do. I have a coworker who pisses me off all the time, but if he stepped in a bear trap I wouldn’t leave him in it to suffer.
      “As far as him “proselytizing” his religios (sic) views on you what do you think you are doing everytime you write something. ”
      His job. JT’s job is to write about religion on a religion website. If people come here, they are coming for the purpose of discussing religion. People don’t go to the dentist for the religious apologetics. That’s not the dentist’s job. If JT had sat down in the chair and said, “Let’s talk about religion,” then the dentist would have been in the right. But he didn’t.
      “… when Jesus does come back and your standing there with a “deer in the headlights” look on your face, may he have mercy on you because if he doesn’t he will “Destroy” you”
      You can always count on Christians to make a threat right before they wish you well.

    • Rowan

      “Yes God can do anything even cure gum disease but why would he want to when all you do is try to convince people he isn’t who he has proven over and over to be.”

      I like the implication that people who aren’t in JT’s shoes, who are good Christians and love God, never get gum disease…and that if they do, its no biggie because it can be prayed away. Why it almost even sounds like some kind of testable claim, or like there’d be some data to back it up.

    • Azkyroth

      Anger is a legitimate response to horrible human beings like yourself.

      What is it with scumbags and demonizing anger, anyway? (I mean, I know WHY, it’s because anger is powerful and they want to keep the downtrodden defenseless and servile, but what’s their STATED reason?)

  • Anonymous

    oh and your dentist making that “awww” comment after you told him what you did is no different than you having a reaction to someone telling you they were a christian preacher! He was probably making small talk and you got so defensive that anything he said you took offensively. Which I dont know you and you dont know me or the dentist Im guessing, so who are we to judge. I will however tell you I do know that I am a christian, the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior and I will spend eternity with him in his kingdom. I am also going to pray for you and your life and soul, that you may find true happiness with the salvation that Jesus gives you through Grace, even though none of us deserve it. God Bless!!!

  • Gordon MacGinitie

    I went to an office of a national chain of dentists and was quoted about $3,000 for “necessary work”. I then went to a dentist recommended by a relative where I was charged about $100 for a cleaning and examination and told that I had no need for further work. My gums are low on my teeth and have been so all my life; one dentist I saw thought I had a serious problem and sent me to a periodontist who told me that I had no need for his services.
    Get a second opinion! And check out the dentists office: what magazines are there and what decorations.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t implying anything and maybe jt should take responsibility for his gum disease and stop complaining that the dr was trying to rip him off! And yes he did go for the dentist to tell him what needed to be done about his teeth that is the dentists job but I can also tell you that as a Christian the dentists # 1 job is to spread the word of God and witness! Praise the dentist for sharing and showing that God is a part of him may he be dentist or not. My thinking is pretty clear last time I checked and if jt is supposed to be talking about religious views we dont want to hear about his gum disease! Also that was not a threat about the “deer in the headlights” comment that was not a threat it was a warning and a promise! God is good but you should also fear him! He gives and takes away! Oh and Christians wish you well because we want everyone to have the chance to hear the good news and be a part of HIS kingdom. We are not threatening you then wishing you well. We are warning you and hoping that you come to your senses. As far as you thinking that the dentist needed to separate religion from dentristy that like saying we need separation of church and state. Which clearly is doing noone any good just look at today’s society! Sandy Hook elementary, the movie theater shooting, the list could go on and on! Satin will always be present so there will always be people that he will influence and bad things will continue to happen but our job is to spread the gospel to as many as we can that we can save as many souls as we can by them choosing on their own free will to give their life and heart to Jesus. I still pray for yours and JT’s even though I feel your judgment is clouded and facts unfounded. I will pray for your salvation and that you may come to realize that your life would be much better with Jesus in control for it is he that created you in the first place. God bless:)

    • Loqi

      “I wasn’t implying anything and maybe jt should take responsibility for his gum disease and stop complaining that the dr was trying to rip him off!”
      Please quote the line in the article where JT says it was someone else’s fault. Also quote where he said the dentist was trying to rip him off.

      “Also that was not a threat about the “deer in the headlights” comment that was not a threat it was a warning and a promise!”
      Also known as a threat. When you say “do x or something bad will happen,” that’s the very definition of a threat.

      “God is good but you should also fear him!”
      If something is entirely good, there’s no need to fear it. Your concept of what “good” means is warped.

      “Which clearly is doing noone any good just look at today’s society!”
      The one with the highest technology, lowest levels of violence in history, and highest standard of living? Yeah, it was much better when the church had control. You know, the Dark Ages.

      “…your life would be much better with Jesus in control…”
      Just a second ago JT needed to take responsibility, and now he needs to let Jesus take control? That’s the opposite of taking responsibility.

    • Loqi

      And yes, you were implying what Rowan said. You said god could cure JT’s gum disease, but the reason he doesn’t is that JT is mean to him. Therefore, god would have no reason to not cure the gum disease of christians, since they aren’t mean to him. The existence of christians with gum disease belie your claim that the reason he doesn’t is that JT is mean to him. So which is it? Is he incapable, or is he unwilling?

  • Anonymous

    First off no I was not implying anything, second I did not say God wasn’t curing JTs gum disease because he was mean to him, please, I said why would he want to. Get your facts straight. Taking responsibility for his gums, seriously, letting Jesus take control meaning letting Jesus guide your decisions you make in your life. I’m pretty sure Jesus is not going to send you to hell for having gum disease. Clearly you have no clue and I feel sad for you. Be as it may, you have heard about Jesus and his wonders and are free to believe what you want. Sadly I cannot carryon a conversation about or with someone who is so clearly misguided and uneducated about religion. I don’t know who pays JT to write this stuff but they should get someone with more knowledge in all the different religions to be able to argue any point. Christianity is a religion based on faith which you clearly lack, as well as, like JT, the knowledge to plead your case. So as Jesus said “forgive them father for they know not what they are doing” and may God Bless You by bringing you to your knees. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, It is DONE.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Uneducated about religion? If you know some way or some place to get uneducated about religion, please let me know, and I’ll set off at once. No matter where I go, religion seeps into society like fermenting honey – thick, cloyingly sweet, intoxicating, and it makes a mess that is almost impossible to clean up.

      Oh, darn, It is DONE. Now I guess we atheists should just pack up and go home, because, you know, It is DONE. If you ever work out what It is, and how It is DONE, please enlighten us. Please, continue to condescend to us. It is entertaining watching you extol the virtues of your imaginary friend using the clever device of tooth pain. Or alternatively I can discuss Islam with a muslim in terms of those really annoying splinters that you get in your finger and just can’t get out no matter how much you try.

    • Loqi

      “First off no I was not implying anything…”
      Yes, you were. The implication was made plain for you. Simply saying “no I wasn’t” doesn’t change the fact that you were.

      “…I said why would he want to.”
      You said that he can. He hasn’t. Either you’re wrong and he can’t, or he’s unwilling. You said he’s unwilling, and it’s because JT doesn’t have faith. Ergo, if JT did have faith, he’d be willing. But the faithful get gum disease at the same rate as atheists. What gives?

      “I’m pretty sure Jesus is not going to send you to hell for having gum disease. Clearly you have no clue and I feel sad for you.”
      I certainly don’t have any clue what you are saying here, if that’s what you mean. Though I think the problem is on your end, not mine. Who said anything about getting sent to hell for having gum disease? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve read since…your last response.

  • Anonymous

    You guys clearly haven’t any clue and it makes me laugh at the ignorant comments you make and arguments you think you make. Have a great life. Lol

    • Loqi

      I notice you never got around to quoting the part in the post where JT said the dentist was trying to rip him off. Am I to take that, along with your apparent flounce, as an admission that you made it up?

  • Anonymous

    Oh and “IT” is the war between good and evil Jesus (good) and the Devil (evil) and we know who wins in the end JESUS! You would know that if you were educated in the Christian faith. Point made. Your ignorance makes me laugh and pity you at the same time. Enjoy your life on earth:) lol

    • Loqi

      Yes, if only we were educated in Christianity. Never mind that many of us are former Christians. Never mind that many of us went to Christian schools and universities. Can you really not comprehend that for some of us, one of the big reasons we became atheists is that we did get educated about Christianity and found it specious at best?

      If you feel that we are just uneducated, then please, educate us. I assume you’ve resolved Euthryphro’s Dilemma? Solved the Problem of Evil? Have an explanation for the logical impossibility of both an omnipotent god and human free will? Can explain the contradiction between a perfect god with a perfect plan and the idea that prayer works? Please, wise anonymous internet commenter, impart your wisdom to us.

    • panamafloyd

      I grew up in a Christian home. If I didn’t believe that nonsense when it came out of the mouths of my own parents, why on Earth do you think I’d believe it from the likes of *you*?