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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

The Tooth Trip: It Need Not Be a Bummer

As promised , I’m back to share with you some of the wisdom of my favorite hippie dentist, Dr. Thomas McGuire, DDS, author of The Tooth Trip. While it’s tempting to just quote far-out passages full of trippy language and good vibes, my first obligation is to acknowledge that this book is a treasure trove of useful information about oral hygiene. It was written in 1972, so some of the details about the technology of dentistry are outdated, but mostly Dr. McGuire’s advice is of the timeless, commonsense variety. That said, it’s also worth noting that the guy plants his freak flag firmly in just about every paragraph. Money is always “bread,” any concern or preoccupation is referred to as a “trip,” significant others go by the worthy title of “old man” or “old lady,” and good things are inevitably “groovy” or “far out.”

It Need Not Be Bummer

So, to acknowledge the double appeal of sound advice and hippie prose, I’ll share with you a few of the good doctor’s maxims, then reward you (in advance) for following them with a choice excerpt from his book.

  • Brush after every meal and floss daily. (Basic, but the question is: do you do it? If so, pat yourself on the back and take a congratulatory toke from that roach sitting in the ashtray next to you.)
  • Brush thoroughly – Dr. M. recommends two and a half minutes per brushing, no less no more. (Though two minutes is industry standard, in my experience.)
  • Don’t drink soda. Full of sugar and phosphoric acid, “both bummers,” in the parlance of 1972.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after drinking anything else. Rinse with water after eating if you can’t brush.
  • If you like to suck lemons, do so in moderation and rinse thoroughly with water afterward. Citric acid can dissolve the enamel and dentin of your teeth very quickly.
  • Don’t ignore bleeding gums, a clear indication of the first stage of gum disease. Step up your oral hygiene program, and if the bleeding continues, see a dentist.
  • Eat whole grains rather than heavily processed grains whenever possible. Eat raw fruits and vegetables daily, especially crunchy varieties.
A significant section of The Tooth Trip offers detailed advice on how to suss out a good dentist, and how to get the best care from your dentist once you’ve chosen one. As the caption to the illustration above shows, Dr. McGuire believes that “the first appointment need not be a bummer.”

He also believes that potentially painful dental work need not be a bummer. And one way to prevent pain is to embrace some friendly, fully legal drugs:

The better the dentist, the more likely are the chances that he will use gas (nitrous oxide, sometimes known as laughing gas). Gas is an anesthetic and when used in moderate amounts is safe and really is effective in helping to relieve dental anxiety. Try it – have him start on “low”; you can always tell him if you want more. Mentally it’s a trip and if you like getting stoned, you’ll really get off on gas.

Good advice: you can always tell him (or her) if you want more.


Blogger Dawn said...

I wish I had a dentist like this guy, since many of my visits have been "bummers"

But I DO floss every day - for real, and I asked my hygentist if she could tell, cause I thought that was bullshit and apparently - They can tell.

And dude. Bleeding gums? Who can IGNORE bleeding gums? Unless you are a serf circa 1322, then it was par for the course.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

This is hysterical. I need to get my hands on this book.

And that last sentence, "...if you like getting stoned, you’ll really get off on gas." Is that for real?

2:11 AM  
Blogger E. said...

It's a direct quote. Page 194. (I have the fourth edition, printed in 1973.)

Dr. McGuire has further thoughts on various drugs and their relationship (both positive and negative) to oral health. Stay tuned...

10:08 AM  
Anonymous D-Man said...



Nice teeth, by the way.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I see the good doctor has himself surrounded by lotsa young hippie chicks. Not a bummer, indeed!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Holistic Dentistry said...

All I can say is I get valuable information about dental health today. Simple tips yet very powerful and beneficial.

2:57 AM  

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