CASE, Chris

Nacirema Essay
John A. Dowell, instructor
last update:3/23/09
650 Words

Nacirema's Holy-Mouth-Men

                Today’s Nacirema culture consists of various defacing of one’s body from tattooing and piercings to make-up and beauty products.  One body ritual that is becoming frequently more popular is the Ginetihw hteet.  This act allows for the harmful chemicals to seep into mouths and purge the evils of staining.

                This ritual was formed numerous years ago by the elite class.  Elite’s believed that in order to appear outside their home and in front of a photographic capturing device, everything had to be perfect.  First came Botox, then plastic surgery, and now their hteet must be perfect.  In the older days of Nacirema culture, surgeons called the holy-mouth-men were specially trained in the art of the steel pick and steel probes which scraped away buildup and surface stains for their numerous patients.  As time went on, development of new edible products full of acid and carbonation rendered the picks and probes ineffective.  Elitist stars of the Nacirema culture pressured the holy-mouth-men to develop a new means to remove stains that were now so deeply etched in their teeth, and the holy-mouth-men did so gladly, for a price.

                These surgeons looked to a common cleaner, bleach, as a solution and decided to modify this compound.  This bleach was toxic enough to eat away scum on a toilet bowl, kill mold and mildew, and sanitize just about any surface at the time.  Looking at bleach, they knew it would be overly potent and life threatening to a patient.  Using a similar product, Hydrogen Peroxide, they were to get the bleaching result they desired. Hydrogen Peroxide is normally found in a liquid form which was still too strong to apply to the mouths of their patients.  Adding other chemicals to Hydrogen Peroxide diluted it down to a usable level and transformed it into a gel-like substance.

                After the development of the gel, the elite of the Nacirema culture demanded immediate treatment, believing beauty was more important than safety.  It took only a few treatments to receive bright spotless teeth that people everywhere would notice.  Eventually their brilliant white teeth would fade from their acidic beverages and their poor eating habits, and they went back for countless more treatments.  No wonder after a half dozen treatments or less the elitists started to complain about their teeth being more sensitive to cold and pressure, the enamel on each tooth was paper thin.  It wasn’t long after this gel was created and used, that the middle and lower class were able to afford treatments.  They became obsessed with their hteet color and started to receive treatments, though less often than the elitists did due to monetary constraints.

                A new market had been bent and soon a frenzy of products that attempted to mirror the gels affect were everywhere.  Some new pastes were fairly inexpensive, roughly a dollar more than the original paste, promising whiteness for a smaller price than treatments.  Nacirema culture quickly bought into these products and the paste became a part of their daily obsessions.  Soon after whitening mouthwash hit the shelf, again promising great whitening power for a bit more money.  Eventually, bleaching in an office became a greater problem for the lazy culture and strips were ultimately created that would produce comparable results to bleaching. The strips took longer to work but were less expensive than bleaching with the hydrogen peroxide gel and could be applied at one’s leisure.  Even these products started to create more sensitive teeth, but Nacirema culture has already bought into it and the peroxide was there to stay.

                No one quite understands the motivation of the Nacirema culture that would drive them to this extreme level of ritual destruction of their teeth.   Fame and prosperity is believed the true underlying cause but no one can be certain.  Very few people could refrain from the use of Ginetihw-hteet use for long.  Destruction was inevitable to their mouths.