The Flippant Flosser

22 Oct

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.

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66 Responses to “The Flippant Flosser”

  1. winsomebella October 22, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    The dreaded face-off with flossing is on my calendar for tomorrow 😦

  2. jotsfromasmallapt October 22, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I know this is a true story because I wrote it. You copied my thoughts and ought to be arrested…

  3. LuAnn October 22, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    I must admit to being a twice a day flosser. Not that I am bragging by any means; I think it is my fear of being ridiculed by the hygienist because as my dental appointment approaches, anxiety still sets in. Perhaps it is time to see a therapist (lol). 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks for setting the bar impossibly high for the rest of us. Just kidding! Good for you. Your hygienist must be proud. 🙂

      • LuAnn October 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

        I think I do it because I live in fear of what the hygienist will say and for no other reason! 🙂

  4. Paprika Furstenburg October 22, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I am such a bad flosser, too. I hate it and only do it when I’ve got something annoying stuck between my teeth. Like you, i know that if I lie about my flossing habits, the plaque build up will give me away. So, I’ve come up with this line when asked about flossing, “I do floss, but not as often as I should.” That does seem to minimize the floss related lecture while the saliva is being drained from my mouth. It is hard to mount a convincing defense while wearing a bib, drooling and spitting.

    Thanks for always brightening my Monday mornings.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      You just reminded me why I stopped eating popcorn . . .
      Thanks for the nice words. It makes me feel good that I brighten your Mondays. That’s what it’s all about.

  5. dilipnaidu October 22, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Good caution and reminder to us.Flossing after every meal is a must 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Whoa Nelly, who said anything about flossing after every meal? 🙂 Oh, all right. . .to quote some of my friends and readers: I’ll try.

      • dilipnaidu October 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

        🙂 My dentist 🙂

  6. cindyricksgers October 22, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Oh, this is great! Perfectly captures all aspects of pre-dental trepidation and in-the-chair humiliation, too. Thanks for a good laugh!

  7. Toni Walsh October 22, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    You are my hero! I love your posts. This one has really brightened a very dark day for me. Thank you so much!

    Sent from my iPad

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Wow, Toni, what a lovely compliment, thank you! But I am very sorry to hear you’ve had a dark day. I hope some good karma comes your way soon.

  8. funnysister October 22, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Spot on. Why do they EVEN ask? Then we have to endure the head-rockin rough & rapid floss job they give you as punishment.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      So true. Rough and rapid should only apply to white water rafting, and even then I prefer it toned down a notch.

  9. gabrielablandy October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    You are so observant – but it’s the way you combine that spot-on perception with humour that I love. Plus, I’m so glad that it’s not just me that has a roll of floss in the back of the bathroom cabinet, which is several years old.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      Wow, I really appreciate your positive feedback. I’d probably be more inspired to floss if I bought a different brand. The kind I have is ridiculously thick –it’s like trying to floss with a garden hose.

      • gabrielablandy October 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

        Haha! Sometimes mine sort of splinters, leaving worse debris between the teeth than was there in the first place.

      • Main Street Musings Blog October 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

        I know what you mean. It’s like trying to floss with the split ends of hair.

  10. Deb Weyrich-Cody October 22, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I do truly love to see the humour here, but if your hygienist is asking, trust me, she already knows the answer.
    Dental disease can be a sign of much deeper problems. If your gums bleed this easily – a symptom of Scurvy and gum disease – you are possibly suffering from a Vit C deficiency.
    THE most important time to floss is before bed (when saliva production is lowest and decay is most likely to occur): PLEASE do it for your health (and yes, keeping your teeth in your head; )

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      Good thing I just ordered 40 lbs of citrus for my daughter’s marching band fundraiser! Thanks for sharing your knowledge about dental hygiene. 🙂

  11. mysending October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I do try to floss daily. I do. But…I just say I try to and leave it at that. I was thrilled like a little kid pleasing her parents/teachers/authority figures on my last visit, when I used my line and she didn’t say “Well, you should try a little harder”! But maybe she’s just given up on me…

  12. G M Barlean October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    This was too funny!! Loved it. I loathe the dentist, but have a love/hate relationship with my hygienist. She’s adorable, but I know her and the dentist are in cahoots.

    You talking about flossing the night before a dental visit rang the ugly bell of truth! Excellent Monday morning missive! Thanks!

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      “In Cahoots, ” “ugly bell of truth” — I love your fun comments, words and phrases!

  13. downhousesoftware October 22, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    As always, a terrific post. It sounds a lot like an anecdote I once related to my biology class (honestly, I can’t remember how this ever came up).
    Before I comment further, I want to assure you that I’m not a toothless hobo. However…

    Some time ago, my wife (then girlfriend) and I used to have the same dentist and once scheduled an appointment at the same time – sort of like a massage for two, only with more bleeding.
    It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I didn’t realize that we came from different dental backgrounds and there was a deep chasm between our dentist visit experiences.

    It’s important to note that my wife does everything better than me. She’s smarter, has a better job where she makes several times more than my best paying position ever, is more self confident and… as it turns out, flosses.

    Her cleaning took about five minutes. One minute to look into her mouth and two to bring over all the hygienists to show what a mouth full of healthy teeth and gums should look like and then another two minutes of taking photos for the brochure.

    Mine, on the other hand was so long I lost track of time (possibly from the blood loss) and ended with a severe scolding about my dental cleaning regimen leaded to my silent humiliation and agreeing to buy an electric toothbrush so fancy and expensive that I had to pay in installments. This was also the time that I was asked to come back after only THREE months for another checkup and scheduled my first-ever root canal.
    Meanwhile, my wife had strolled outside so no one would think we were together – or perhaps she was trying to get away…

    I don’t go to the dentist with her anymore.
    I think it’s better for our relationship.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      It sounds like the only thing your wife doesn’t do better than you is bleed.Thanks for taking the time to share your hilarious story. It was truly entertaining.

  14. Storkhunter October 22, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    I’m also a lackadaisical flosser and got the standard lecture last week when I visited the dentist. My dignity is hiding beneath a pair of stirrups somewhere but Prashadi, my hygienist, made me hang my head in shame. But have I learnt my lesson? Ask me where I keep my floss? I dare you.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

      Let me guess where you keep your floss — with your dignity? 😉

      • Storkhunter October 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        If you find either please send them back. In fact I’ve pretty much given up on the dignity, but I could use the floss

      • Main Street Musings Blog October 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

        Ha! Will do. 🙂

  15. Carrie Rubin October 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Daily flossing is easy for me. Going to the dentist is not. I don’t even like the teeth cleanings–that metal probe is bound to hit a sensitive area of gum recession. But my dentist is great, and she never keeps me waiting, so I guess there’s that. 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I’m not sure what’s worse, the metal probe or the mental probe!

      • Carrie Rubin October 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

        Is it safe? (Remember that Dustin Hoffman movie?) 😉

  16. nursemommylaughs October 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Mmm, creamed spinach. I think we’ll have that for dinner tonight. Thanks for the tip.

  17. Elliot October 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I have exactly the same opinion on going to the dentist and the experience of it. I do floss before bed though, as my wife super guilts me if I don’t. It is just routine now.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      What’s routine, the flossing or the guilt? 😉

      • Elliot October 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

        The flossing. I don’t even think about it anymore

  18. Honie Briggs October 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    We had a family dentist years ago who was also a pilot in the Air National Guard. On one visit he told me that he was looking for some property to use as a landing strip, as he also owned a small plane. On my next check up I asked him if he’d found the property he was looking for and his reply was this: “Yeah, but there’s an option to purchase an additional 50 acres and I’m waiting until I finish seeing your family for their annual check- ups.”
    OMG! THAT was embarrassing.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      I’m guessing that your pilot dentist was able to expertly navigate his way through your mouth. 😉

      • Honie Briggs October 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

        Yeah and made a pretty penny doing it, but now I floss!

  19. Debbie October 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Not to brag, but I’m a compulsive flosser! I absolutely abhor the feeling of food stuck in my teeth, and I hate the thought of enduring (and paying for!) fillings. So just call me a weenie!

  20. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer October 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    I once had a little plastic container of dental floss: I wonder where it is today?

  21. earthriderjudyberman October 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Oh, they’re on to you all right. Lisa, I cringed and laughed at the same time. Your post is right up there with Bill Cosby’s routine on the dentist – where he’s been given a shot of novacaine and then told to “spit” – only it’s impossible when he can’t feel one side of his face.

  22. Huffygirl October 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Aha, it turns out my husband is NOT the only person who starts flossing right before the dentist appointment!

  23. joehoover October 23, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    I hate dental reminders a few days before I am going to the dentist. If you follow this with a story of how you lost £2800 then it will coincide nicely as that is what it is costing me

  24. The Laughing Mom October 23, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    The night-before-a-cleaning-tooth-floss-fake-out never works, does it? Your posts make my Monday mornings better as well. It’s a very reassuring constant that all is right with the world. The number and quality of comments your posts receive is testament to the quality and most of all, the writer. No pressure now…

  25. Val October 23, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    A dentist I had years ago, when I complained that I couldn’t get the floss in between certain teeth because they were too close together, said “doesn’t matter. If you can’t get floss in, you’re not going to get bacteria in there either…” Er… eh?

  26. downhousesoftware October 23, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    For a terrific monologue on flossing, watch Mitch Hedberg:

  27. I suck as a parent October 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    “I prefer not to relive last night’s creamed spinach.” LOL. So icky and so true.

  28. Main Street Musings Blog October 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Or use a Waterpik on the ick. . . 🙂

  29. facelikeafryingpan October 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    In the past year, I have become addicted to a couple of strange things–plucking my eyebrows, having my upper lip waxed, and flossing. Basically, I have become masochistic. That being said, my visits to the dental hygienist still resemble something out of a guts&gore flick. My gums must lose a pint of blood. And my version of Lydia keeps tutting to herself. I want to cry out “I floss every night!” but my mouth is full of something that tastes like a rubber glove full of nickels. I try to use my eyes to communicate my lack of culpability, but I just wind up looking deranged.
    I really would like to look in her mouth. Or better yet–I’d like to stick a sock in her mouth and make fun of her stray lip & eyebrow hairs.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 28, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Hilarious! 🙂 I’m wondering. . . does your avatar floss as regularly as you do?

      • facelikeafryingpan October 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

        being that he’s down to just two teeth, I’d guess not. Plus, those fangs are tough on floss. Shreds it to bits.

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