Teeth lead a tough life of neglect

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Besides the 30 seconds we spend brushing in the morning and before bed, they get absolutely no personal one-on-one time with us. And then, whenever we get hungry, we give them all sorts of garbage to chew on.

I can?t decide which is more cruel to our teeth, Cheetos or cream-filled chocolate Swiss rolls. On the one hand, Cheetos have about the same nutritional attractiveness of a greasy potato chip, plus a nuclear-orange ?cheese? powder that instantly clings to any surface (other than the actual Cheeto) that it comes in contact with.

Then again, those Swiss roll cakes are basically chocolate-coated chocolate with prefabricated cavities in the cream filling.

So I feel sorry for our teeth, especially since they have to spend all their time right next to the tongue, which is basically a lump of muscle that just kind of flops around in our mouth and gets coated in this filmy junk in the morning, causing bad breath.

The tongue really only serves two purposes. It creates poor exhalation conditions and it tastes the Cheetos and chocolate Swiss rolls our teeth chew.

The French have developed a third use for the tongue, but I don?t feel like discussing that.

Anyway, several weeks back I began feeling sorry for my teeth, and decided that they might appreciate a trip to the dentist. I figured since it had been, oh, I don?t know, around five years since I had seen a dentist, it might be in my best interest to go.

This was in September.

My appointment was basically to check on my teeth, and see what was going on in my mouth. The main thing they did was X-ray my teeth.

First, they had me open my mouth as wide as I could, then they jabbed something?I don?t know what; for all I know it could have been a toy Hot Wheels car?into the back of my cheeks, and then I compiled by gagging.

After those X-rays, they took me to this machine, similar to something you would see on Star Trek, that was supposed to get a panoramic X-ray of my entire mouth. The assistant told me to stand up straight, grab two handles, and bite down on a metal rod that was connected to the machine.

And then she left.

My first thought was that if this was some sort of practical joke, I was going to hit somebody. All I knew was that standing there, grasping two handles, biting down on a piece of metal had to look stupid, and I began glancing around the room for a hidden camera.

Following those few seconds of paranoia, part of the machine began to slowly orbit around my head. I?m assuming it was taking the X-ray. It could have just been special effects.

Anyway, from that appointment, the dentist found a small cavity (not bad for a five-year dental absence) and some plaque on the back of my bottom front teeth, which I?m assuming could lead to death or tooth loss.

The latter of the two is considered more severe in the dental industry.

So last week I went back to the dentist office to take care of the issues that had been found. I started at 8 in the morning with a teeth cleaning. My dental hygienist?s name was Christy. I like her, even though she outfitted me with a pink spit bib.

One of the more exciting things she did was stick some sort of needle into my gum. Before she started, she said, ?I?ll explain what I?m doing after I?m done.?

I?m glad she waited. Had I known she would be sticking that thing up under my gums before she started, I would have probably gagged some more.

Christy later explained that she was measuring the distance from the edge of my gums to where they connect with the teeth roots, or something like that.

However, I?m sure this could also be Phase 2 in their practical joke program.

Later, she asked me if I flossed. I said, ?On occasion.?

I lied. The truth is, I had flossed a few days before, but that was only because I was chewing on a plastic flossing instrument out of sheer boredom. The actual act of flossing inadvertently occurred when the string got caught between my teeth several times. But before that, floss had not touched my teeth for several years.

After the cleaning, I went over to the other side of the room, where the dentist took care of my cavity. I was expecting a long procedure that included needles and metal fillings. Instead, he stuck a tool in my mouth that supposedly had a laser to zap the cavity. However, all I really noticed was that it squirted water onto my face.

Despite the fact that it had been so long since my last visit, my recent dental experiences went fairly smoothly. However, the dentist said that my wisdom teeth are coming in. This means that I?ll probably be going back sometime soon.

I don?t mind. I think my teeth like the attention.

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UFO: The Johnson & Johnson Corp. got the first patent on dental floss in 1898.

Don?t ask why.