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

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Confession

I have many admirable qualities, chief among them that I am a daily flosser. Flossing is important, in that it promotes healthy teeth and gums, and it's socially responsible, in that it prevents bad breath. I am a daily flosser, but last night I did not floss.

I went out to a poetry reading with a friend. I drank some wine. I listened to some pretty good poetry. I drank some more wine. I came home feeling good. My Old Man was handsome, as he always is, and hot, as he always is, and never does a husband seem so hot and handsome as when he's been home with the kids on a Saturday night, allowing one to go off and do something adult. An amorous interlude ensued (with a break to put fresh sheets on the naked bed - ah, married love). It was half past midnight, the candles were flickering, and we were nestled in newly laundered flannel. Then suddenly I awoke to my man's groggy voice. "Holy shit, it's 3:30." I ran my tongue over the film of wine scum on my teeth and briefly considered just going back to sleep. But I am constitutionally incapable of that. I hauled my warm ass out of bed and into the chilly night air, stumbled to the bathroom, and brushed. But I did not floss.

It's not that big a deal. It's happened before. The last time was probably before O. was born. (O., who recently celebrated his fifth birthday.) I'm not anal retentive in a general sense. I let plenty of things go. I have been known to blow off a shower when I'm in a hurry. I can pick up a pair of jeans off the floor and pull them on, even as I silently acknowledge that they rightly belong in the hamper. But oral hygiene, as anyone close to me knows, is my one thing. It's a way of life, a philosophy, a cause. And last night I sinned against that cause.

My Catholic background tells me that when you sin, you must confess. But no priest would consider my transgression a real sin. So whom can I confess to? To you, dear reader. You can give me some penance if that's your thing. As for myself, this small sin against the tenets of good oral hygiene makes me realize that I've committed another sin of omission: not making sufficient use of this blog as a platform for spreading the good news of oral hygiene. It's been a long time since I've actually had an oral-hygiene-related post. And for that, I am truly sorry. So let me end with one of my favorite little truths of oral hygiene.

A favorite little truth of oral hygiene: when you can't brush, rinse. I've been told by more than one dentist that swishing your mouth with water is in most cases nearly as good as brushing. Unless you've been eating something really sticky, a good swish and spit or swish and swallow will do you 'til you can get to a toothbrush. When I die, if my children decide to grace my tombstone with the words that they've most often heard me speak, they'll probably choose "Swish and swallow, Sweetie."

So when you can't brush, swish. But when it comes time to retire for the night, my advice is to brush for two minutes with a soft toothbrush and floss every tooth in your head. And if you occasionally miss a night, say once every five years or so, don't beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us.


Blogger Orange said...

I sentence thee to 100 lashes with waxed floss.

4:41 PM  
Blogger LetterB said...

You know, I've always felt like going to the dentist is like going to confession. "Forgive me, hygienist, it's been 3 months since I've last flossed."

My husband always has floss on him at any given moment. Always. He's like a flossing gunslinger. You guys would get along.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I will be 41 years old next month.

I have never flossed.

I also have never had a filling.

My last dental exam and x-ray (about 18 months ago) was negative.

Flossing. Meh.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous mountainmama said...

I have to confess that I stole some disclosure tablets from my class when the dentist came to talk and now they are my best friend when I feel like really getting into my teeth.

I say forgive yourself just this one time.

But next time...

9:08 PM  
Blogger E. said...

Orange, I'll lash my gums thus.

LetterB, I like your husband already.

Jeff, you are one of the lucky ones I like to call "cavity impervious" (as opposed to cavity prone). I envy you. You should floss anyway. It's good for your character (and your gums).

Disclosure tablets. I'd have a field day with those puppies. Haven't seen 'em since I was a kid.

2:23 PM  
Blogger max said... you floss before you brush your teeth or after?

11:18 AM  
Blogger E. said...

I usually floss before I brush, but it's not a hard and fast rule. I tend to think that brushing after flossing gets rid of all the bits that the floss dislodges, which seems good. (Though a good swish would probably do the same, most of the time.)

6:23 PM  

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