Saturday, January 10, 2009


While I am now a pretty dedicated flosser, it wasn’t always so. In my teens and twenties, my teeth saw floss only on the rare occasion that I got a piece of popcorn stuck between a couple of molars, and even then I only flossed the spot necessary to remove the offending bit of corn-hull. All the other teeth were ignored. I didn’t hear them complaining, so I assumed everything was fine. I had better things to do with my time.

So, as you might imagine, whenever I went to the dentist during those years and the dental hygienist asked me if I flossed, I’d squirm a little and mumble something about “every now and then” or “once in a while” or some other vague expression that really meant “No. No, I definitely do not floss, but I’m not going to admit it to you. Stop judging me!” Does anybody ever answer that question truthfully? Anyone? Ever? No, they don’t.

I don’t recall exactly what made me start thinking about flossing, and then actually doing it once in a while. I’m going to guess it was something like the memory of my grandmother sticking out her false teeth and making her eyes all crazy-looking and causing me and my cousins to shriek in terror and hide under furniture. I came to realize that no, I am not immortal and my body parts are going to start breaking down just like everyone else’s if I don’t take care of them. In short, I decided that I didn’t want to be the old lady with the freaky teeth who scared small children.

It was hard at first. It was just one more thing that was standing between me and vegging on the couch at the end of the day. I became an intermittent flosser, maybe averaging every other day or so. Still not on the straight and narrow according to The American Dental Association™ I’m sure, but definitely better than never. That slowly morphed into regular, every day, no-matter-what, can’t-relax-and-go-to-sleep-unless-I-have-flossed flossing Now if I don’t floss, I feel like I may as well go to bed with a mouth full of candy and invite the gingivitis to come and have a party in my mouth. I could wake up a toothless old hag! Instead of the toothed apprentice hag that I am now.

So, what was my point?

Oh yeah, well, now that I floss every day, I always expect the dental hygienist to ask me if I floss, so I can sanctimoniously declare “Yes! I floss every day! Aren’t my gums magnificent??” Only she never does. What is up with that? I always leave feeling cheated. I floss every day and I want some recognition for the effort, dammit. Is that too much to expect? She has her hands in my mouth for a good 20 minutes. Would it kill her to ask me one little question? It’s not like it would take any extra time. She could ask me while she’s putting the little drool towel around my neck or when she’s reloading the spinning rubber tool with nasty-tasting tooth polish or any number of other times when there’s a lull in the conversation.

So this week I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask why she doesn’t ask me the floss question, now that I actually do floss. And you know what she said? She said she could tell whether or not someone flosses just by looking, so she didn’t need to ask.

Excuse me….what? WHAT?? She can tell by looking?? Really? So all those times that she asked me about flossing, she ALREADY KNEW the answer? What kind of crap is that?? What, did she just want to listen to me lie, so she could feel superior? Is that how she amuses herself? By secretly mocking non-flossers?

Of course, this revelation has caused me to reevaluate our entire relationship. I thought it was based on trust and mutual respect and now I know that I was just being naïve. It’s true, I am just too trusting. I had no idea what was really going on. I feel so used, so manipulated. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let my guard down and be vulnerable with another hygienist ever again. She stole my innocence and I can never forgive her for that.

And her? Well, she clearly has issues. I mean, you really have to wonder about someone who spends her entire day passive-aggressively manipulating non-flossers for her own amusement. The more I think about it, the more I’m really starting to worry a bit about the woman’s mental stability. She obviously needs a therapist and possibly medication. And it wouldn’t surprise me if someone organized an intervention in the near future. Otherwise things could get out of hand.


Blogger Em said...

Holy crap! Jill, welcome back. I would grab you and hug you...but you know, thousands and miles and all that. Plus it would force Slag to hobble over and try to defend you with his bad back. But damn, I thought you were gone from blogging forever! I was so happy to see one of my first blogger friends pop up in my comments again.

I'm sorry you had such a tough 2008. Don't take the time to read all my old posts...just know that I understand. It was a bitch. So 2009 has got to be better for both of us!

2:51 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

I can't help but see the other point of view, too--how you made the hygienist cynical before her time, teaching her not to trust the vows of those in her care, causing her to lose hope and faith.


That helped, right?

11:27 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

That damned lying bitch! lol I'm using a new floss I love!!! I've been a Glide girl but the new Reach ultraclean is the BOMB

11:22 AM  
Blogger Jazz said...

They're all the same. Every one of them. The holier than thou attitude, the sermons on the benefits of flossing. Of course they know whether you floss if they are any good at all at their jobs.

And tell me, who the hell chooses dental hygiene as a career? "Wow, I think I'll spend the rest of my working life scraping gunk off people's teeth." You ask me, these people have to have issues if this is how they choose to spend 8 hours a day.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

It's all bullshit. Did you not see the news that suggests a link between mouthwashes that contain alcohol and oral cancer? These goddamn dentites are out to kill us all with their fluoridated water and laser whitening.

And besides, kids these days need to have some sense scared into them. I can't carry that torch alone :)

11:18 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

yeah, you can't lie about flossing because your gums bleed during the visit if you don't. that's the tell.

you'd know that if you were a true non-flosser. i narrow my eyes at you speculatively.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous joy said...

You are blogging again! YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!

6:01 PM  

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