In the cartoon, the dentist is standing over his patient. “Now open even wider, Mr. Stevens,” he instructs the wild-eyed man, who is stuffed with no less than eight cotton rolls and six metal instruments while sporting a suction hose dangling down his chin. “Just out of curiosity, we’re going to see if we can also cram in this tennis ball.”
The above dentist isn’t real; he stars in my favorite Far Side comic. Which speaks volumes, in that A) dentists are, by nature, curious folk B) we are practical to a fault (i.e. once tennis balls lose their bounce, what other purpose could they possibly serve?) and C) we have desert-dry senses of humor, given our particularly wet working environment.
Unlike Far Side’s dentist, however, we subscribe to the less-is-more theory: the less equipment we put in your mouth, the more fingers we can fit in there. The more fingers in there, the quicker the job gets done. Which leaves us plenty of time to re-organize our floss collection.
Besides, let’s face it, tennis balls are just too big to fit in the average person’s mouth, no matter how wide he opens.
Good thing there’s ping pong.