“I have nothing against Trident per say. I just don’t like gum. I am more of a chocolate person. When they asked me that question…the horrible, horrible question. That’s when the nightmare began.”
We caught up with the “5th Dentist” as he is generally know to find out his side of the story. He asked that we do not use his name, image or location. For the sake of this article, we will refer to him simply as “Dr. Wonka.”
The Scallion: “Dr. Wonka, could you take us back to when and how all of this started?”
Dr. Wonka: “Well, I was attending the Chicago Midwinter some years ago. Someone approached me with a clipboard and asked if I would mind answering a survey question. I said sure. Then I…I am sorry this is hard.”
TS: “Take your time.”
DW: “She asked me if i would recommend Trident for my patients who chew gum. I don’t chew gum…I never have. OK, maybe when I was a kid. But never Trident…so I answered ‘no.’ That is where the nightmare began. God…if I had only known!”
At this point the color drained out of Dr. Wonka’s face. I wasn’t sure he would continue.
TS: “Can I get you some water?”
DW: “Yes. Thank you. OK. Well, as you could imagine, word spread fast on the floor. I didn’t see it coming. I was just checking out some instruments at one of the booths when I saw the mob coming…screaming. They literally chased me off the floor. Even though it was absolutely unreal, I just wrote it off as a weird day. The next day…the calls, the hate mail. I would find used gum on my office door handle. The local ADA was no help. In fact, most of the local board members were picketing my office.”
Dr. Wonka went onto explain how his practice slowly crumbled and he had to shut his doors and leave town. Luckily, with the help of the AGD, he went into the DPP (Dentist Protection Program) and was relocated 1500 miles from his hometown.
Today, he is once again practicing dentistry. But the shadow of fear looms over him. When asked how things were different he replied “Well, I still have PTSD about “the question, but I know it will still come up. It took years of counseling to even discuss it. Now, if a patient asks if I recommend Trident I just force a smile and say “yes” enthusiastically. I just hope they don’t ask about my flavor recommendations. I still don’t chew gum and have not tried Trident. I just live a lie. This is my life now.”
With that, Dr. Wonka got up and bid me farewell. He walked out a broken man, haunted by that fateful day in Chicago.