I should start out by saying that I’m not sure that there’s actually such a thing as ‘crunchy’ dentistry..if there is, it’s probably something to avoid:
ME: Why are your teeth all brown?”
HIPPY: “My fillings are all reclaimed hardwoods.”*
ME: “Of course they are.”
*This is a win-win, because not only is he saving the environment, he’s managed to turn something that’s usually white into a shade of brown (Brown is always more crunchy than white – see last time’s Crunchy Life Survival Guide post).
I happen to know that there IS a crunchy form of orthodontics…but we haven’t gone down that pathway yet.
We do however have what my wife refers to as a biological dentist. I think that this largely boils down to low-radiation x-rays, deriding fluoride, and an utter refusal to do mercury-based fillings. I think he spends an awful lot of time taking out mercury fillings and putting in BPA-free composite (white) fillings.
My wife had all of hers ripped out and replaced, and she said they make you wear this thing in your mouth (a dam they call it?) and run this giant vacuum tube in front of your face so that you don’t inhale all of the mercury they’re drilling out.
KEY LIFE SKILL – Don’t inhale mercury.
Anyway, I have a weird relationship with dentists on account of my nearly perfect teeth. They’re not supermodel teeth, and they’re not like crazy white teeth that glow in the dark, they’re just totally normal teeth, but with no problems. I’ve never had a cavity, never had braces, they’re just sort of all there…doing their thing, not going crooked. So dentists always love my teeth, and make jokes about going out of business, or threats about how I better take care of my “beautiful, healthy teeth.”
But the first time I went to our new biological dentist was the only time that I have ever been SO peer-pressured into flossing…(all of what follows really happened):
DENTAL ASSISTANT: “You have beautiful teeth.”
ME: (after being allowed to suck on the air straw to clear my mouth of fluids) “Thank you.”
DENTAL ASSISTANT: “Do you floss?”
DENTAL ASSISTANT: “What?? Why not?”
ME: “Well…I often don’t have time.”
DENTAL ASSISTANT: “How often then?”
ME: “Uh…….maybe……once every couple of weeks?”
DENTAL ASSISTANT: “Everyone should floss every day.”
ME: “I know.”
(Dentist comes in the room)
DENTIST: “Hello! Let’s take look…open wide…Ah! You have beautiful teeth!”
ME: (mouth full of various mirrors) “Aunk ou”
DENTIST: (to assistant) “Doesn’t he have beautiful teeth?” (assistant nods) “Man…make sure you take care of these teeth.” (looks into my eyes at close range)
ME: (mouth released from instruments) “Yes Sir.”
DENTIST: (to assistant) “So, how are we doing? Are we flossing?”
ASSISTANT: “He brushes at least once a day, sometimes twice…” (Dentist is back inside my mouth, but nodding) “…but he only flosses occasionally.”
DENTIST: (sits back in chair and looks at assistant) “What?? Why?”
ASSISTANT: “He says he doesn’t have time…”
(Both dentist and assistant BURST into laughter, he sitting in the chair, she standing at his shoulder, both looking at me, laughing like I just told the funniest joke in the world…one may have had to wipe a tear from their eye, I don’t remember.)
DENTIST: (leans back in)”Let me ask you a question: Do your gums bleed when you floss?”
ME: “Well yeah, but that’s pretty normal…right?”
DENTIST: “Do your hands bleed when you wash them?”
DENTIST: “Your gums shouldn’t bleed when you floss, if they do it’s a sign of inflammation. When you have inflammation in your gums, your body’s immune system is geared up.”
ASSISTANT: (nods somberly)
DENTIST: “It’s about equal to have a 10cm by 10cm open wound on your chest.”
ME: (concerned eyebrows) “Well…I suppose I could floss a bit more.”
DENTIST: (claps me on the shoulder) “That’s the spirit, we can’t let anything happen to those beautiful teeth of yours!”
ME: “OK. I mean, thanks.”
(He rushes out to visit another room, another patient, so now it’s just me and the dental assistant.)
ASSISTANT: “Here is a free tooth brush…” (I accept) “…AND a box of floss.” (makes eye contact, I nod seriously, accepting small white box of green string). “Don’t forget, floss every day.”
ME: “Yes ma’am.”
I don’t floss every day…it’s about every 48-72 hours probably, which is a MASSIVE improvement over my old flossing schedule. AND my gums don’t bleed anymore…though if ever they do I start to sweat that chest wound…
…and the shame of potentially ruining my teeth…
…and then no longer receiving the awkward accolades that I have become so accustomed to receiving.
NEXT TIME, ON THE CRUNCHY DUNGEON: