There are differences in people. There are dichotomies. That’s what makes life interesting. To some sufferers of the most severe tooth pain, the notion of remedy and ministration by a self-styled “Dr. Jazz” might sound like a prescription for catastrophe. To others, a harmonious and rational convergence.
Dr. Peter Silver has a profound affinity for two things: dentistry and jazz. One would not think it easy to fully integrate these passions, but to the greatest extent imaginable, this is what Dr. Silver has done. He provides a “musicians discount,” and appreciative players accordingly reward him with their patronage. Walking into his Union Square office is a bit like strolling into a backroom adjunct at Lincoln Center. Framed and autographed photos of many of his esteemed patients line the walls, each with a warm testimonial to the talents of Dr. Jazz.
When he is filling cavities or replacing crowns or performing root canals, unless the patient objects, Dr. Jazz always has jazz playing. He will happily accommodate requests on his ample iPod or, failing that, choose something of his own to listen to. What is still more interesting about Dr. Jazz is that he earnestly believes that oral surgery should be at least somewhat fun. He himself cares nothing for the scolding, threatening, school-marmish tropes of the dental industry.
Instead, Dr. Jazz has a strict policy of practicing Guilt-Free Dentistry. “I don’t like being lectured,” he’s fond of saying. “Why the hell would you want me to lecture you?”
Another thing Dr. Jazz stands resolutely against is pain. Pain is an inextricable part of the dental profession and Dr. Jazz sees a lot of it walking through his door. But he is loath to inflict it and seems genuinely invested in his role as healer. Those harboring suspicions (myself among them) that many, if not most dentists, are insane with power and motivated by sadism, will find a different animal in the Jazz Dentist.
He has invested in the cutting edge of numbing and sedating tools—a particular point of pride is something called the Wand, which, it can be testified, rapidly creates the sensation of having no teeth at all.
Dr. Jazz rightly points out that following the Wand, there is little need for nitrous gas, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t recommend it. To the contrary, he himself is a fan. “You won’t need it for the pain,” he tells you, “but it’ll make it more fun!” His able assistants nod around him in assent. “I always get it,” he says. “Why in the hell not?”
Why not indeed? Between the convivial banter, the soothing Charles Mingus, and the laughing gas, this root canal is turning out to be pretty swell! Dr. Jazz is, unsurprisingly, an accomplished jazz musician himself. He plays trumpet in his own ensemble, The Blue Nitrous Big Band, which can be heard on his website or at any of the open weekly practices which his patients more than occasionally intend. The doctor is certain beyond a doubt that his dentistry has helped his jazz and that his jazz has helped his dentistry. Improvisation and creativity are vital to both practices.
And there goes Dr. Jazz, to the swaying tones of be-bop, improvising happily, painlessly, in your mouth.