Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Importance of Flossing

As a child, my grandfather was a traveling salesman who specialized in dental equipment. Lined up neatly in his garage were case upon case of sharp and bizarre looking objects he would sell to dentists along the West Coast. They were dubious instruments which looked to be crafted for the sole purpose of causing pain. Medieval torture devices looked more welcoming. Or at least that's how I saw it as a five year old boy. And as I'm currently unable to feel the left side of my face after some intense dental work done this morning, that's how I see it now.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think dentists are sadists or anything (not on the whole at least... and certainly not my dentist! If you are reading this doctor, you are amazing. Seriously amazing. Please don't hurt me.). Anyone willing to hang their head over the gross mouths of random strangers day in and day out is next to a saint in my book. A well paid saint, but a saint nonetheless. Plus they have to put up with the Nervous Nelly's such as myself. It's no doubt an amazingly difficult job and I commend them.

My complaint comes from their instruments. It's one of those cliche "we can send a robot (robot!) to Mars to putz about in red dirt beaches and send us vacation photos from 48,678,972 miles away but we can't clean teeth without metal hooks and bloodshed" complaints. Cliche or not, it does illustrate that despite all of out advances in technology, teeth have been stubbornly resistant to its guiles. "Nope," they say (don't question how they say it, just roll with the anthropomorphism), "you can have all your fancy, lazer-y, whiz-bang tools. We are perfectly content with a sharp piece of metal thank you very much."

Of course, that's not exactly true. The fact that most of use still have teeth beyond the ripe old age of 30 is evidence of the fact that dental hygiene has come a long way. And replacing the teeth that don't make the cut has gotten quite a bit more sophisticated as well (and less shiny). This isn't even bringing up the revolutions that have been made in the toothpaste industry.

In the end though, it all boils down to scraping, poking and drilling. And when you are sitting in a chair having that done, all the whitening toothpaste in the world isn't going to make the process seem any more modern.
posted by jw