Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Social Acceptability: Toothbrushing

Right off the bat, I’m going to confess that I’m a two-timer. After breakfast and after dinner (and drinks and dessert and post-dessert salty snacks and potentially drinks of the “nightcap” variety to wash down the salt). To the chagrin of dentists everywhere, I have never been good at, nor plan to become good at, that post-lunch toothbrushing. Morning and the alpha and the omega, and that suits me fine. I’m not good about flossing either, though I fully recognize and appreciate the merits of doing so. Too much blood.

Here’s the question for you:  when should one commence the morning brushing?

Simple question, right? I thought so too, but have found out that there are some unspoken social norms out there you might want to check out before you continue on your potentially culturally inappropriate brushing rituals.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that you brush when you are completely done with your morning meal. What’s the point in cleaning if there’s only going to be more dirt coming soon? Most mornings (during the week...weekends are different and occasionally less hygenic, by accident not by design) I eat a small bite before getting into the vehicle to go to work, or, in the case I’m “on the go” I might take my vittles with me and eat them on the way. Food is done by the time I get to work, so time to brush, right? Not so fast...while I can wolf down a sausage and egg biscuit, I like to savor my morning drink of choice.  

Having been scarred in fifth grade by a wonderful teacher with terrible coffee breath, I vowed never to inflict such discomfort and grief on my students, so I wait until my coffee is finished to brush my teeth. At work. Usually while walking down the hall towards a spittoon. I get weird looks, sometimes comments, as though what I’m doing is some outrageous or exotic eccentricity, and I contend that I am simply practicing proper dental hygiene.

Where do you stand on this one?

Christian:  You probably couldn’t have picked a worse person to ask this question.  Congratulations. First off, I’ve never had a cavity. Yes I know. I’m amazing. Or any kind of teeth issues for that matter. I even still have my wisdom teeth! Second, I hardly ever, if ever, eat breakfast. And lastly I can’t stand the taste of coffee. Therefore, in my case, I always brush my teeth in the morning before I head out.

But to help you out I’ll try and put myself in your shoes to see what I think is the best approach:  OK let’s see, I’m a teacher with horrid teeth issues and a major addiction to caffeine and I can’t quite figure out when I should brush my teeth.

Umm... yeah, this is easy. You should not leave the house before brushing. Period. Maybe if you were a chimpanzee or one of the lower primates, this kind of behavior might be ok, but for god’s sake we’re part of a species that has written grand symphonies and invented port wine cheese.

At the same time I don’t see any issue with brushing again after you finish succumbing to your addictions. Seeing someone with their toothbrush in hand at work or in public shows an edge of sophistication and class in my book. These people appreciate the finer things and take care of business when it needs taking care of, is what I think.

Pat:  Umm...nowhere did I refer to myself as being a teacher “with horrid teeth”, Christian. Look, I can take criticism, but please just say it to my face (now all our Blaudience knows I have bad teeth!). Thanks.

Alright, I AM open to input on this one. So you’re saying that leaving the house without brushing is simply inexcusable? I get that. But you’re also saying that brushing again at work seems reasonable, even admirable, right? So...I am technically gross for setting out into the public with a foul mouth, but I’m not weird for the public brushing. Cool. Damn the naysayers!

Seriously? No cavities? You suck, man! There is no fairness in this world.

What the hell is port wine cheese? Is that the orange-purple marbled cracker spread they sell at Hickory Farms? Speaking of, did you ever go to the Hickory Farms in Eugene and load up on the samples? Remember that summer sausage stick? They always saved it ‘til near the checkout...that was awesome!

Christian:  Did I ever go to the Hickory Farms? Um hello... my mom worked for that Hickory Farms for a few years while I was growing up. We used to have family dinners entirely made up of free samples.  

But stop trying to change the subject of this post which is your horrid teeth issues and how we can fix them. Let’s see... Have you ever considered seeing the dentist quadruple-annually? I know it sounds excessive, but it may be needed, if we ever want to get you smiling with confidence again. What’s your toothbrush situation? Please tell me it’s an electric.

Pat:  Electric toothbrush? Check! (At home.  At work I go old-school medium bristle.)

Quadrannual visits to the dentist? Totally outside the scope of my health plan, fella! My check-ups have been just fine over the past decade, except for that mother of a root canal a couple of years ago! I can smile with the best of them, and except for a crooked alignment that three and a half years in braces-hell couldn’t even fix, and some slight yellow discoloration from the coffee noted above, I do just fine! You make me out to be some Oregon version of Shane MacGowan.

To credit your view however, last week I tried brushing both before work AND after coffee, and the results were shocking. Better outlook on the day, more confidence, weight loss and lots of new friends. Not really, but I did notice a slight difference. Truth will out when the dentist takes a gander at my gums!

Christian:  Society and I thank you.


  1. As I mentioned on the FB, I recently read something about teeth brushing. It would seem that this blog and my addiction to are fated to be soul mates.

    According to British researchers,it turns out that we're doing it wrong. Teeth brushing, that is. We're doing everything else 100% correctly. The thing about British teeth researchers is that they know teeth! I mean, you can't have teeth that bad without learning something along the way.

    Evidently, it's super damaging to brush directly after you eat. And you're definitely not supposed to brush after you eat something acidic. You should brush before you eat or waaay after you eat. Even if you like to eat to eat acid to help you fall asleep, you can't brush your chompers. You have to wait until morning.

    One interesting point that they made is that if you leave the house without brushing, you're 92.67% more likely to have your teeth fall out, 84.6% more likely to get scurvy, 28% more likely to encounter flesh eating bacteria and -18% more attractive to the opposite sex.

    I just wanted to add that I have superhuman teeth. I never go to the dentist more often than every 5 years. I also haven't had a cavity in 25 years. My mom is always trying to convince me that I should go more often, but the last time I went to the dentist, he tried get me to go out with him. I call him "creepy dentist".

  2. As a critical, aloof, language snob, I'd like to point out that "quadrannual" would be every four years (like biennial means every two years). It's "quarterly" if you mean to say something that occurs four times in a year in regular intervals, or just plain "four times a year".

    Just doing my part to ruin someone's day.

  3. Megiweg - Yeah, but weren't the British the ones that totally blew it at that revolutionary war thing?

    Dedrick - We were told that there would be no math involved with blogging.

  4. Yes, but they won the Civil War.

  5. Hi Megiweg-

    I don't know you, yet. As such, I am somewhat unaware how to read your typed messages (we lit. teachers call that "inferring voice" if you're craving an annoying and condescending journey back to 10th grade English class).

    I think you are being sarcastic. If so...ha ha ha ha! Seriously cracked me up!

    But then I remember that I don't know you and that you might be serious. In that case, your information, especially the statistics, terrify me.

  6. Dedrick-

    This could get embarrassing. As I said to Megiweg, I am in fact a teacher of the English Language Arts. I teach high school students the proper and joyful use of our particular collection of nouns, verbs and other languagy things (I teach them other things, too, like killer dance moves, and how to be "fly" or "dope", but I digress...). As such I should feel horribly exposed for my misappropriation of the term "quadrannually". That, or I should feel insulted and offended at your snobbish effrontery.

    However, I am neither, and you know why? Because, like the bard, I am committed to regularly and randomly making up words to fill space, and you know what I just did? I made up a word that already existed! Have you ever done that? It's hard! And I just did it! And you just proved it! And I am now a genius!

    Thanks Dedrick!

  7. I would say that 60% of 100% of what I say is 92% snarky and 39% informative. Does that clear things up?