Throughout the first grade, it seemed like everyone at Oakland Elementary had cavities. Almost every day, a new kid would walk into class and proudly proclaim to Miss Lawrence that they visited their dentist the day before and were diagnosed with their very first cavity. They would even go so far as to pull back their cheek, displaying the decaying tooth in question as well as a sizeable amount of drool. I was jealous. Six-year-olds want to be involved in everything, no matter how detrimental to the health of your mouth it may be. I wanted a cavity, just because it seemed like something everyone should have. I needed to satisfy my own need to fit in. After a much-anticipated visit to the dentist a few months later, I learned that I had been graced with the presence of tooth decay. I was ecstatic.
Eleven years later, I wonder if I could have been much stupider. Waking up today, the alarm clock buzzes at 5:30 AM and I trudge upstairs. I shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast, all the while anticipating my favorite morning ritual. My oral hygiene has improved considerably since the days of play-dough and the playground—these days, there’s very little that makes me happier than brushing my pearly whites. When I’m still groggy from the heat of the morning shower, the taste of mint and the bristly texture on my teeth manage to invigorate me during our two minute daily rendezvous. And, when we part ways upon spitting, I look forward to bedtime so I can have the opportunity to do it all over again.
Two times a day, certainly. Three times a day when I can. Brushing my teeth has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes. I may seem odd to you, this strange guy relishing the most boring of habits, but I’ve found joy in a place where others find monotony. I get pleasure out of the small things in life, and this is certainly no exception. Brushing, flossing, and the scraping of the tongue are all necessary parts of the oral upkeep experience. Scented twine can remove bits of food not removed by one’s brush while simultaneously fighting gingivitis; a piece of plastic with a hoop at the end can remove the dreaded, foul-smelling “white gunk” from the tongue.
I believe in a clean mouth. This habit—nay, this obsession of mine has given me what I’ve always needed in life: stability. Wherever I may be, I will always have a toothbrush, a tube of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, a plastic box rattling with minty floss, and the pièce de résistance, the essential cleanser-of-tongue. Hey, if ten out of ten dentists recommend brushing, it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to give it a shot.