Dentistry

Written for the Wanderer's Depths Contest's fifth prompt, "Mermaid teeth fetch high prices on black markets." This is also my first piece on the Wanderer's Library as a whole!

Thank you to my critters:


"Hello there Moriah!" The dentist exclaimed as he saw the mermaid girl push through his door, a grimy smile on her face. The air-filled glass bubble surrounding his head muffled his speech, but his cheery attitude always managed to shine through to his patients. But this time he had to stave it off. "Have you not been brushing your teeth? They look terrible!"

Moriah was quick to shrug him off, having been used to this little dialogue loop from her countless visits. "What can I say? You'll just pull 'em out and I'll regrow 'em."

"Well yes, but that's no reason to disregard your dental hygiene! Doesn't it hurt?"

"No."

"Does it… smell?"

"No? I mean, nobody has ever commented on a smell before…" Digging into her memories, Moriah quickly remembered a moment in which she swam past a halfshark, which dived away in disgust. "Oh. Well… only to some."

The dentist smirked, walking around his counter and waving her into another room. "Well then, there's your reason to take care of yourself." He paused for a moment before continuing on. "And if you don't I'll start charging you more."

"Hmph."

"Take a seat." He gestured to the dental chair in front of him, and she followed his command as he snapped on some gloves, making sure to push all of the water out of them. As he adjusted the different mirrors spread within the room, making sure as much natural light would reflect from the window into her mouth as possible, he spoke. "So, you're just having a few teeth pulled today?"

"Yep. Whichever ones look bad."

"Alright then." There was a short tearing of velcro as the dentist grabbed a mouth mirror from a tray. Underwater dentistry was a challenging endeavor, tools always went everywhere, no electronics or paper could be used, and the biology of different creatures had to be learned, but the dentist found ways to adapt. "Open up."

As Moriah opened her mouth, the dentist realized he would never get used to how terrifying it looked. Rows upon rows of razor-sharp teeth littered the inside, with a strangely humanlike tongue in the center. He shuddered to think how much it would hurt to accidentally bite down.

After a moment, he shook his worries away and began to poke around with his mouth mirror. "So, looks like… three on your upper front row and two on the bottom. Should be easy enough." Grabbing a pair of industrial pliers, he looked down at Moriah. "You ready?"

The mermaid replied with only a confident nod, though the dentist could notice her hands tightly gripping the edges of the chair.

"Alright." The dentist leaned down, tightened the pliers around a yellowed, blackened tooth, and pulled.


"Dude, lookit!"

"Yeah?"

"That guy is back. Y'know, the tooth guy!"

"Ah. Think he's gonna flood the market again?"

"I hope! Last I heard he's singlehandedly puttin' all the farms out of business."

"Ain't his product really low quality though?"

"Eh, people don't care. If you were grinding up and snorting teeth of all things, would you?"

"…I mean, I don't snort teeth, so I can't really say—"

"That was a hypothetical question, you dimwit."

"Hey, how am I supposed to know?!"

"When the question is crazy enough that you wouldn't know the ans—"

"ThAt WaS a hYpOThEtIcAL qUeSTiOn yOu DiMwIT"

"…"

"…"

"Shut up."

"Fair."

"Anyways… they also care that it's humane. Humane as teeth-pulling can get, at least. I think he goes around and gathers them up from scraps."

"Who knows, who cares. Gimme the stuff already."

"Alright, alright, here's your five grams of halfshark toenails and six grams of starhuman hair, you freak."

"Finally. Now leave me alone."

"See you next week," the man said with a sigh, and he swam all the way back to his underwater beauty salon.


The dentist placed the large sack of coins into his almost-full safe with a grin. Sometimes, making a living almost felt too easy.

He heard his door open once more, and another mermaid girl swam in with a mangled, toothy grin. "How can I help you?"

"The usual."

"A few pullings, then?"

"You know it."

"I'll never be able to get you to brush your teeth, will I?"

"Never."

And though on the dentist's face was a disappointed frown, inside he was beaming with delight.

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