Everyone knows that there are shady chiropractors, cut-rate plastic surgeons, and other purveyors of medical quackery (cough, Dr. Oz, cough) out there who are as willing as a three-card Monte dealer to deceive you out of your hard-earned cash. But, as a rule, we have faith that real professionals in the medical community are motivated more by altruism than they are by being able to afford a vacation home in Banff.
So it's especially disconcerting when you discover that there are some common healthcare practices that don't seem to fit the definition of "science-based medicine" at all, unless the "science" you're talking about is the study of used-car salesmanship.
5Your Dentist Might Be Drilling For No Goddamn Reason
Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
Only the most deviant and self-loathing among us actually enjoy a trip to the dentist, but it's a necessity if you want to progress through life without being mistaken for a member of European royalty. While we've all heard the stories of laughing gas parties and sedation fondlers among practitioners of the bicuspid maintenance trade, the vast majority of DDS's and DMDs can be entrusted to conduct themselves in the most Hippocratic way possible as they keep our choppers in working order. But stocking the office with the latest hi-tech equipment can get expensive, to be sure, so can we really blame them when they aggressively bombard us with excessive, teeth-destroying procedures so that they can get a return on investment?
"Rinse and spit. Preferably not on the billing clerk, please."
We're not talking about the stories of rogue maniacs who look at every pulled tooth from a screaming child as a ticket to becoming a Medicaid millionaire. The fact remains, however, that even if the guy in the white coat with the tray of troublingly pointy implements is the most well-meaning doctor around, some aspects of modern dental practice might be confirming every 7-year-old in the world's deepest fears by doing you more harm than good. See, the old model for taking care of patients' teeth was the "drill and fill" approach, where the dentist would simply react to your affinity for taffy and phobic avoidance of floss. But, nowadays, they're taking a more preventative approach and using cutting-edge tools to address the potential pothole festival in your mouth while they're still known as incipient carious lesions, or microcavities. Trouble is, studies suggest that it's frequently completely fucking pointless.
David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Slight plaque buildup; guess we'll have to knock 'em all out and start over.
Your insurance covers gold and diamond grillz, right?"
And not only is it often pointless, early treatment measures can actually cause your smile to end up holier than Pope Francis taking a shotgun to the side of a barn. According to a report from the ABC News Medical Unit, some dentists, eager to make good use of their new technology, will convince patients that every tiny discrepancy on the enamel needs immediate filling and may even equate the situation with a life-threatening disease with comments like, "Do you want me to leave a little cancer in your mouth? No."
"I'm sure whatever money you save by not filling it will be enough
to cover your funeral."
Some of the more wizened members of the profession argue that these microscopic lesions can often take years to develop into something truly actionable, and sometimes don't even evolve into full-blown cavities at all. In other words, old-school dentists go for the "watch and wait" approach, while the young pups with the shiny, new (and expensive) equipment want to fill every hole they can find. Even if the sexual metaphor in the previous sentence hasn't hit you yet, it will the next time you go to the dentist.
4The Best Birth Control Is Too Damn Expensive
There are a lot of birth control options on the market, from condoms to pills to filling every shelf in your home with Nazi memorabilia. However, many agree that the most effective way to keep the scourge of cell division from blaspheming your womb is the intrauterine device, or IUD. These magical mini-pogo sticks of baby-prevention are reportedly 20 times more efficient than the pill and probably at least that much more useful than the pack of mango-flavored Magnums you shoplifted from Rite Aid. They're expensive, though, so they're not as widely used as they probably would be. How expensive? Women are being charged thousands of dollars for something that costs around 40 cents to produce.
Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Similar to that watch you picked up near the train station.
While the initial payout of about $1,200 for an IUD makes it a cost-prohibitive option for many young women to consider, the crazy thing is that once you get one jammed up in there, it's probably the cheapest form of birth control in the long run outside of permanent unibrow-implant surgery.
Which is exactly why drug companies are charging so much for them. They own a device that's effective, cheap, and works for almost half of a woman's reproductive lifetime. So instead of handing them out like the free condoms you can get at your high school nurse's office, pharmaceutical companies made the price so high that young women are forced to try every conceivable cheaper method first before doctors reluctantly dole out the good stuff. And every conceivable birth control method often ends in -- you guessed it -- conception.
You'll hate Monday even more when you confuse it with Tuesday
and wind up with octuplets.
Good news, sexually active young women who can't afford insurance but don't want to share their dorm with a newborn -- it looks like a new product just came out that could bust the monopolies wide open. A company called Actavis has partnered with a women's pharmaceutical nonprofit known as Medicines360, and the result is a $75 FDA-approved little doohickey called Liletta. And if $75 is still out of reach, there may come a day when you can just 3D-print your own IUD. No word on whether or not you can 3D print a bot to insert the thing for you.