Do you find teeth comical? Do you find it hard to take them seriously? Jianan Qian, writing in The Millions, does.

“teeth make a flawed metaphor, too mundane to be tragic and too superficial to be profound. I await the the first great contribution to dental literature.” - Jianan Qian, Dentistry and Doubt: On Writing About Teeth. The Millions

Happily, there’s no need to wait for great dental literature, because we already have Lucia Berlin’s extraordinary short story ‘Dr. H. A. Moynihan’. This appears in her 2015 collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women, and though wonderful, is not for the faint-hearted. To be fair, this dentistry is comical, though along the lines of a Southern Gothic Grand Guignol.

“I hated St. Joseph’s. Terrified by the nuns, I struck Sister Cecilia one hot Texas day and was expelled. As punishment, I had to work every day of summer vacation in Grandpa’s dental office.”

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin 📚

Just the first two sentences here, though. The rest you’ll need to extract yourself!