On Wednesday night, President Obama gave his first State of the Union Address. Obama’s only mention of dentistry came in a quip about the bank bailout. He equated the bank bailout to a root canal and the remark was followed by audience laughter. The exact portion of the transcrip, according to CNN, follows
Our most urgent — our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans — and everybody in between — it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it.
I hated it. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.
One group that wasn’t laughing at this remark is the American Association of Endodontists. Members of this organization were bothered by Obama’s use of a common comparison that has plagued their profession for ages. Coupled with the negativity of his explanation of the bank bailout, this part of the speech did not sit well with endodontists. The AAE quickly formulated a press release and sent word to the White House that this remark was unsettling to a large population of dental specialists. Read the press release here.
As dental students, and some of you may be future endodontists, were you angered by Obama’s remark? What alternative comparison could he have chosen? Or is this something that the profession needs to let go? There will always be the expression “it’s like pulling teeth,” no matter how advanced or painless extractions become. Unless endodontists fashion root canal procedures with a new name, the conotation will probably remain. Dental procedures are not often thought of as comfortable or pleasant and dentists will most likely battle public opinion for a long time. Obama used this to make joke. But the fact remains that dental procedures are meant to relieve pain, not cause it. Was Obama right or wrong to call out root canals as unpopular?