At the risk of sounding like a dental hygienic goober, I have to admit that unless there’s an 8 oz. chunk of sirloin caught between my teeth, I’m not likely to floss this week. Those of you who floss daily are delivering a well deserved, “ewww.” The rest of us are saying, “Yeah. What’s your point?”
Here’s my problem with flossing. You are taking a mini garrote and wrapping it around two fingers. Then you are jamming a string with the tensile strength of concertina wire between your teeth with enough force to send it directly into your gums. You know you’re doing it right if your fingertips are purple and your gums are bleeding. Under no circumstances is purple a good color for skin. I feel sorry for the hygienist who is trying to sell you on the idea of periodontal pain every day. “It may seem like cruel and unusual punishment,” she says brightly, “but it’s not like I’m asking you to listen to country music every day.”
I used to need valium, laughing gas and restraints to sit still in the dentist’s chair. I’ve matured way past the need to be strapped down, and since my current dentist is old school, I don’t get the benefit of recreational drugs. He just has you bite down on a bullet while he’s administering the novocaine: the man can find a nerve ending with pinpoint accuracy. Most of my dental work now consists of damage control on old fillings, and new damage to my bank account.
My parents didn’t make me brush when I was a kid, and I’m not sure that dental floss was invented back then. Naturally, I got a lot of cavities. We went to Dr. M. because he had an easy payment plan. He also had a limited supply of Novocain, a diesel powered drill, and hands that smelled of cigar smoke. People didn’t wear rubber gloves back then unless they were cleaning toilets, so I got the full experience of second hand cigar spittle sliding down my throat and a eau de stogie wafting up my nose.
Since my teeth and fillings are marching to the tune of different drummers in the department of wear and tear, the sins of my youth have come back to bite me in the butt. I have one implant to replace a crown that developed a fatal attraction to caramels. The dentist had an actual ratchet to screw my new tooth into my jaw. The parts aren’t cheap, but it’s the labor that will kill you.
At what point are you missing enough teeth to consider dentures? My husband had to get a tooth pulled, and the dentist has targeted two more for oral elimination. If three implants cost the same as a full set of dentures, his teeth will be sleeping in a cup on the bedside table from now on.
Cervantes said that a man’s teeth are as valuable as diamonds. Mine may be as expensive as diamonds, but I’m still not likely to floss today. Basically, I’ve learned nothing.