Floss off that tooth beard

So, the shocking news last week (news that wasn’t about Donald Trump I mean) is that there is no proof that flossing your teeth does anything. No one ever, in the 200 years floss has been around, bothered to do an “official” study to see if rubbing your teeth down with string helps them not get cavities.

I read that many commentators heaved a sigh of relief at this news because they felt so guilty about not flossing. But wait! Just because there are no studies does not mean it’s not doing anything. It just means they haven’t done a study to prove its benefits just yet.

Or maybe I just want to show my superiority that I floss every day. Yes, every day.

There was once a time when I never flossed or even brushed my teeth. During that time, I found myself at a sleep-over birthday party. I was laying on a trampoline with six or seven other boys, trying to doze as we all inched toward the center. There was very little sleeping going on.

While we were talking late into the night, a fellow partygoer complained that his teeth felt hairy without brushing or flossing, which obviously none of us did at this party. I got to thinking. If his teeth felt hairy, then my teeth must have been like that old limerick where the man had a beard so long that birds built nests in it. Suddenly I felt like I had a teeth beard.

That image alone changed my life. From then on I brushed, and I added flossing not too much later, since if I didn’t, my teeth felt hairy far into the night.

So the moral is, that slumber parties are good for children, because of all the positive peer pressure going on. Ha! Just kidding. That’s what my kids would like me to say. There were other conversations on that trampoline, which is why we don’t allow slumber parties.

But I digress. Now my teeth could probably care less if I floss, but my overly sensitive gums are used to it, and if I stop flossing, I have sore gums within a few days. So my gums, and that kid 25 years ago, force me to floss. And now, there’s a chance it might not even keep me from getting cavities.

I shouldn’t find it that surprising, because I have had plenty of cavities since I started flossing. But flossing makes me feel like I’m doing something. Not all of us can move to India and help the poor like Mother Teresa. The only good some of us can do every day is floss. Let’s just hope it is enough.


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