On floss(ing)

Who ever it was that convinced us all to run a little white thread between our teeth at bedtime is a total marketing genius. Oh yeah, our teeth will stay in our heads longer, but the ritual torture of our gums is the price. Both my grandparents lost their teeth long ago and had no reason to ever floss. I still have teeth, so I floss. Flossing is a bathroom activity for which you necessarily must close the door. Brushing your teeth is even less intimate than flossing. It’s almost as if you were doing something bad and you don’t want others to see. I have my little routine: start on the lower left and work my way around, switch to the top left and finish it off. Sometimes I bleed, but the pain is a good pain that keeps you coming back for more. I would be disappointed at this point in my life if I could not floss. I must face the possibility that I am a flossing junkie that gets a little shot of pleasure from the pain involved in flossing. I’m wondering if this is a bad thing or good thing. I love the little floss dispenser packages that hide in your overnight bag so that you cannot find them until you get home again. Floss that breaks easily is not really floss, but string. When I put my fingers in my mouth to get the floss through the back teeth, I feel like a real dentist. Floss with a spearmint flavor, or cinnamon is a bit like putting rabbit fur on hand cuffs, but not that I would know. There is something very wrong about self-inflicted ritual pain which is associated with oral hygiene. I floss so that the woman who does my dental cleaning doesn’t yell at me for having swollen and bleeding gums lined with tarter, bacteria, and rotting food. It’s the rotting food which motivates me to hall out that high-tensile tooth piano wire. I’d rather scrape it off every night than let it sit and rot and smell. When I eat an unpeeled apple, popcorn, caramels, and tough roast beef, I really need my floss to finish the meal, otherwise I would being eating leftovers for days, and there’s nothing worse than getting popcorn stuck in your gums–they get sore and sensitive. In some ways, floss is a cleaning tool, but I wrap it around my fingers really tightly so I can get a good grip, and my fingers end up half-strangled, purple and puffy. My conclusion about floss is that it might be a necessary evil if we want to keep our teeth. Since I’ve had so much work done on them, spent thousands of dollars to keep them in working shape, I might as well keep up the maintenance. I would hate to throw away all that money, time, and pain for nothing. One can always get the dentures, but then you might end up in a late night commercial demonstrating how to put them in or how to get them clean, and the answer is not toilet bowl cleaner. I mean, imagine your dentures breaking free while eating a nice steak out in a nice public restaurant. Floss is probably the way to go, even though it is inconvenient, a pain to work with, and sometimes it gets stuck in your teeth as well. Perhaps someone should invent toe floss for the feet, or belly button floss for the navel. For the time being, I’ll live with a little pain, floss a little better, and hope that the dental hygienist who will work on my next week will be having a very good day, especially when she flosses. Last time she flossed I think I lost weight.