Having finished the book, one question I was left wondering was why the dentist was even included in the story. It seemed odd to have such a bizarre character without having him significantly contribute to the plot. In hindsight, I think Tokarczuk included the dentist as a mirror of the government.
First is the alcohol the dentist uses to help sedate his patients before he works on them. Evidently, from the descriptions of the patients’ reactions, the alcohol isn’t doing much good to ease their discomfort, because the dentist isn’t providing adequate assistance. Similarly, I believe Tokarzcuk is arguing that the government, though its duty is to help the people, doesn’t provide adequate support to citizens when they have a problem, which is something that Janina experiences multiple times throughout the book.
In addition, Janina describes the dentist only pulling out teeth for most of the time, instead of filling cavities or trying to prevent them. Again, the dentist mirrors the government in critiquing it for not doing enough to protect citizens, and only taking action when something drastically bad happens, similar to how the dentist only pulls out teeth once they are beyond saving. I feel that although the dentist personally doesn’t contribute much to the plot besides agreeing with Janina in her theory that the animals were the ones murdering all of the people, he does serve as a reflection and a critique of government.