There are certain things in life that we do because we have to, like eat, drink, and sleep. There are other things we do because we ought to, like brush our hair, make our beds and change our underwear. Then there are things we should do but don’t, like compost, eat brussels sprouts, and floss our teeth every day.
We all know the benefits of daily flossing: less plaque, less decay, and the less we have to listen to our dental hygienist repeat the annoying adage, “Just floss the ones you want to keep.” In the hygienist’s world of dentistry, flossing is a religion. Flossing is to a hygienist what meditation is to a monk.
But if you’re like most people, you find flossing gross and prefer not to relive last night’s creamed spinach. So you don’t floss until the night before your dentist appointment when it’s too late to remove the Mount Rushmore-like build up of plaque that’s carved its way into your molars, and your only option is to pray that during your examination your dental hygienist, Lydia, will hit her head on the swinging arm of the x-ray machine, suffer a minor concussion and forget to ask if you’ve been flossing.
I suppose I could just lie and tell Lydia I floss regularly, but I know my mouth will betray me the second she glides the waxy string between my teeth causing my gums to swell like water balloons and leak out a whirlpool of blood.
I’ve learned it’s better to admit my flossing laxity and hang my head in shame. What’s one more humiliation when I’ve already been made to wear a bib, drool, spit, and suffer the floodlight-like lamp that when switched on illuminates my face, simultaneously blinding me and highlighting my unwanted chin hairs?
That’s in addition to the physical discomfort I endure during teeth cleaning when forced to keep my mouth open until it’s drier than the Gobi desert while Lydia inserts a device she fools me into thinking is a Waterpik, but is actually a miniature handheld vacuum that sucks out any surviving droplets of moisture until my oral cavity is arid enough to hang-dry laundry.
I suppose I should look at the bright side of teeth cleaning. It’s one medical appointment where I don’t have to disrobe, reveal my weight or give a specimen. The only thing I have to shed is blood, saliva, and my dignity. Lydia will take care of the creamed spinach.