Dental hygeine

You know what, I have pretty damn good dental hygiene. It's not much but it's something positive to hold on to as I floss my teeth in my tiny bathroom in front of my broken mirror. It's still cold in here. A whole building full of cold rooms stacked neatly one on top of the other, like my own private section of an ice cube tray. It's cold and small and lonely. But I haven't had a cavity in years. It's something. And I'm not overly obsessive about it either. I don't carry a tooth brush, or floss around with me. But I do floss every single day. And I brush every day, sometimes it's only once a day, at night before I go to bed, but I never miss a day. Which is why I can't stand that there is no floss in this country. OK, there is floss here but it's not nearly as common. I had to go to three grocery stores to find it. The first one normally had it but it was just out of stock at the moment, at the second one they didn't even know what I was talking about, and when they finally figured it out they told me that they don't cary it. Once I had finally tracked it down I ended up paying something like 4 or 5 euro (between 5 and seven dollars depending on the exchange rate) for one spool.

I squeeze a bit of toothpaste onto my toothbrush and begin massaging my teeth in a circular motion. I look in the mirror and think about school. It's an adventure of frustration and futility. The teacher doesn't allow any language but French to be spoken after the door has closed. I mean, it's not like I don't understand ANYTHING... it's just that I have trouble understanding mostly everything. After my first day the teacher asked me to stay after and talk with her(in English, of course). I told her the truth, it was hard for me to understand what was going on in class, but that I wanted to stay in her class because I would rather be challenged to learn faster than to be bored with a class I understood completely. I thought that after a week or so that I would start to understand more but I'm not progressing as quickly as I had hoped. I guess learning a language is like anything else, you have to take it one step at a time.

I spit. Then begin brushing the backside of my teeth, then tongue, then roof of my mouth...

I didn't always brush my teeth. In fact I had pretty terrible dental hygiene up until I graduated from high school. If you asked my friends from high school about it they would say that I never brushed my teeth. If you asked my college roommates they would say that I always did.

I have been to the dentist twice a year since I was six and every time they have told me I should brush and floss everyday. I never did. I always felt guilty about it too. Like God had given me a gift of teeth and I didn't care enough to practice basic hygiene. When other things in my life would go wrong I sometimes would think that maybe things would be different if I brushed my teeth more. I didn't think this often, but I thought it more than once. Now I don't really believe that any miraculous changes would have occurred if I had been an avid tooth brusher, but any time you aren't doing something you know you should do you doubt yourself, just like anytime you are convinced you are doing what you should you have a bit of extra confidence. And I kind of think that even things like dental hygiene have a spiritual aspect. Right now it's providing an unlikely barrier between me and absolute despair, so I guess that counts for something.

But when I was in high school, even with the dentist telling me that I needed to start brushing and even with all the painful drilling and cavity filling and occasional guilty feelings, I still never brushed my teeth. So what happened? Well, like the all normal human beings, I have never really cared for anything until I was going to lose it... One time I went to the dentist and they did a periodontal exam and told me I had pretty bad gingivitis and even some periodontitis, which the hygienist explained is when microorganisms in my my mouth cause the bone to deteriorate which eventually causes my teeth to fall out...

Hygienist: At this rate you will need dentures in your mid thirties.

I didn't want dentures. My mom has dentures. Dentures are annoying. Plus, loosing any part of your body permanently, even a tooth, is just kind of horrifying. My mouth was full of blood and saliva.

Me: Wha caa aa oo...

Hygienist: What? Oh hold on, you need to spit, let me get the vacuum... Close your lips... There you go.

Me: What can I do?

Hygienist: Well your gum tissue is bleeding a lot so I can tell you aren't flossing. You need to start flossing everyday. And brush as well. I'll give you a prescription mouthwash that will help fight the periodontitis, but it won't help unless you are FLOSSING and using the mouthwash everyday.

And so I started flossing. It wasn't an immediate transformation, but it was a start. Six months later I had another periodontal scan and there was little progress, so I flossed with a renewed determination and soon I was flossing everyday, and brushing, and then I started going to the dentist and not having cavities. And now I floss and brush everyday.

I spit. I rinse. Spit again. Wash my night guard under warm water and insert it into my mouth (I'm a jaw clenching, tooth grinder). I look at my reflection in the mirror, I look tired. For whatever reason, I've always done some of my best thinking in front of the mirror... maybe that's just because I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. 3:23 AM. I really ought to be asleep by now...

But what was the point of all of this? I guess it's that I changed. Whether or not people can change is a heavily debated topic, and one that I've found myself on both sides of. But the fact is that I never used to brush my teeth... and now I do. Actually now I can't sleep if I haven't flossed and brushed. That gets annoying those times when I want to go straight to bed, like if I've been up late thinking or regretting or being cold. Anyway, some might call it trivial, but I changed. And if I can change in that way I suppose I can change in others... and maybe other things can change too. And if things can change, maybe I won't always be cold. Maybe I won't always be alone...



Currently watching:

L'Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment)

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