Oral Hygiene Queen

My Photo
Location: Midwest, United States

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

RSS Feed

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cleanest Tongue in the Midwest

Last night my Old Man and I watched the movie Julie & Julia. He hated it. I thought it had its merits. I actually loved the Julia part. I've always had a deep affection for Julia Child, and Meryl Streep really captured her good natured, exuberant joie de vivre and her big boned, robust grace. And the film effectively conveyed what was exceptional about her relationship with her husband, Paul. The Julie part was less captivating. I found Julie herself annoying, albeit in a somewhat sympathetic way, and didn't really see what she saw in her man or what he saw in her. That part of the movie could have been more of a frame, as far as I'm concerned, rather than half the flick.

My view of the movie in general is neither here nor there, but I bring it up because a particular moment in the movie struck me. Julie wrote a blog, of course - an initially unknown and underread and ultimately famous and lucrative blog. But even before her blog became famous, her readers began sending her stuff. Food. Speciality food items, which apparently she had blogged about having trouble getting in her area. (Though since she lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan, it's a bit hard to imagine what ingredient she'd be unable to find.)

My blog, humble as it is, and unlikely as it is ever to land me a book contract or a movie deal, has also earned me certain items in the mail. Specifically, toothbrushes and tongue cleaners. Sometimes an oral-hygiene-related business will come across my blog, email me, and ask if they can send me their toothbrush, toothpaste, or special tongue-cleaning device. Not one to turn down free shit (and, yes, a little flattered by the attention paid me as a bona fide oral hygiene expert), I'm always happy to receive these items. But, so far, none has inspired me to write about them.

In fact, I sometimes forget about my oral hygiene swag, which languishes in some drawer in the guest bathroom. I'm reminded when O. says "Mama, are you ever going to make that commercial about that tongue brush?" (When I got the tongue brush in the mail, O. asked about it and somehow my explanation gave him the impression that I'd been given the task of creating an ad for the thing.)

None of the tooth brushes I've been sent have impressed me as worthy of special note. They're all just ... toothbrushes. I think just about any soft-bristled toothbrush you buy at your local grocery store or pharmacy will serve you fine. I'm also a fan of the Sonic Care electric toothbrush, but I've never been sent one to review. (Attention Sonic Care, Braun, and Oral B representatives: send me your newest electric model, and I'll happily try it out and share my impressions!)

The one tongue cleaner I've been sent is actually a tongue brush (with the dubious brand name of "Tung"), and I must sadly say that, even though their tongue brush is pretty fancy looking and has a cool angled head, and even though they sent me a special tube of tongue cleaning gel to go with it, I am not an advocate of tongue brushes.

Here's why. According to my sources, "Brushing the tongue does little more than mash the bacteria and plaque deeper into the filliform, without addressing the real problem at the posterior part of the tongue." Yech. Apparently, it's the back area that really needs scraping. This anaerobic part of the tongue is the hiding place of most of the "bacteria and other debris that are the primary source of gaseous volatile-sulfur compounds (halitosis), hard plaque (tartar), and mineral leaching acids (tooth decay)." And scrape it you must, with some sort of hard and relatively sharp edge. A spoon works, apparently. But I prefer a simple tool designed especially for the task, and my favorite tongue scraper is the snow-shoe shaped variety that scrapes off the whole tongue one one goop-swoop.

My aunt recently asked me how to clean her tongue cleaner. I just rinse mine well with hot water after I use it each morning. I suppose if you're really fastidious, you can clean it the way you'd clean a toothbrush after a bout of sickness. A nice long soak in hydrogen peroxide is one way, or a run through the dishwasher. I don't recommend the microwave. (Ask my long suffering Old Man if you're curious about that one.)

But whatever tool you choose to use, I do recommend cleaning your tongue. (Especially if you've recently eaten a saucy meal of French cooking...)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Now Go Brush Your Teeth!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Back to Our Regular Programming: Oscar Edition

As I watched the Oscars last night, sitting on the couch surrounded by a pile of student essays that I graded while the television was muted during commercials and technical categories, I was struck by several things:

1. Sarah Jessica Parker's hair. That sort of bird's-nesty halo of frizzy escaped hair I get when I've had my ponytail in too long and have been pulling my knit cap on and off? SJP's stylist pulled a mean one on her by giving her that effect on purpose. Go Fug Yourself focused mostly on her weird-looking and unflattering dress, but I think the hair was what really killed her look. I know the "messy ponytail" and the "messy bun" are popular looks that have attained a status worthy of formal events, but the "Audrey-Hepburnesque bun that looks like it's been worn under a ski cap then slept on" might be taking the carefully-crafted-casual-hairstyle thing too far.

2. Sandra Bullock's speech. Maybe she deserved to win. I can't really say, because I haven't seen The Blind Side (though it's hard to believe that her performance in that was truly superior to those of all of her heavy-hitting co-nominees). And I liked the fact that she gave props to the real family the film was based on, and adoptive and foster moms all over the world. But I couldn't decide what I thought of her sapphic inside-joking with Meryl Streep. When she called Streep "a great kisser," I was amused and appreciative. But when she ended her speech by wrapping up her list of people to thank by adding "my lover, Meryl Streep," I got kind of weirded out. I was trying to figure out why, and it struck me that it reminded me a little of the way my adolescent male students sometimes engage in exaggerated homoerotic behavior as a form of joking clearly intended to distance themselves from any possibility that they could be gay. Would Bullock's quips about Streep have been funny if she weren't firmly established as a straight, femme woman? Was it lighthearted pro-gay quipping or subtly homophobic? I'm not sure, but it struck me as really weird.

3. Helen Reddy? Really? I was excited when Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker, only partly because Bigelow is the first woman in the history of the academy to win this high honor (beating out her ex, big boy James Cameron). But when the orchestra began to play an instrumental version of Helen Reddy's pro-feminist AM radio anthem "I Am Woman," I just about hurled chunks all over the couch and my students' papers. As I writhed and kvetched about this cheesy choice ("I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore..."), my Old Man paused in folding the laundry to observe that it was tantamount to the academy playing "We Shall Overcome" a few years back when Denzel Washington became the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Except as lame and insulting as that would have been (cementing the "Hey look at us, aren't we progressive for finally fucking getting around to acknowledging the talent of black actors?" vibe that was already implicit in the awards that year), at least "We Shall Overcome" is still a powerful song that we all take seriously. While "I Am Woman" is just funny, and can only be palatable when deployed with a huge dash of camp. Helen Reddy was a goddess, as Uncle Bonsai so eloquently reminded us, but come on! That song is about as dated as "Harper Valley PTA". Not that a more tasteful and contemporary paean to the power of Woman would be appropriate, either. Nobody else gets special "identity politics" music as they leave the stage.

And that's the way it was on Oscar night here at the Oral Hygiene homestead.