Flossing (Not the Dance Move)-Thursday, December 29th

I overslept this morning and missed my scheduled workout with Critter.  This bodes well for the future…

But, lessons learned, right?  As my friend Maggie would put it “Pro Tip: If you want to wake up early, don’t go to bed at midnight.”  Thanks, Maggie, for that bit of wisdom.  From now on please stay on your own blog and don’t talk to me all slanty-lettered any more.

I will, by the way, be working out this evening to make up for it.  It will throw my schedule off, but we must not get discouraged.  No.  We must not lose hope.  Not this early in the game.  We must persevere, do the hard thing, make up for our losses, and choose life instead of apathy!

I suggest you copy and paste those last five sentences and print them out.  Paste them to your mirror or computer or the inside of your “special place” where you go to hide from the world when discouraged.  You’re welcome.

Now, back to the topic at hand: flossing.

I am what the world would call an “occasional flosser.”  As in, I never floss unless I’m a week out of a dental appointment.  In my world that counts as occasional.  If you have a different definition of that word, a different standard, then label me as you will.  But stop judging now, please.

Frankly, I used to not floss much because it hurt.  And I don’t like seeing blood in my spit.  It brings back memories from my karate days when I would bite my lip or the inside of my cheek.  Not because I was sparring or getting hit, but because I was so nervous about sparring or getting hit that I would chomp my teeth and bite the inside of my lip.

That, actually, turned into a bit of a blessing.  It would appear that I had already sparred because blood dripped from the corners of my mouth and occasionally my cheek would swell.  Obviously the definition of “winning.”

But last night, after I brushed my teeth, I creaked open that medicine cabinet and grabbed the dental floss.  Actually, it was “dental tape,” for those of you taking notes.  Even though I rarely floss…until now!…I’ve always preferred the tape to the floss.  The floss sometimes would shred in my teeth, causing me to have to use more floss to dig it out, which also might shred, and then the circle of torture is complete, my incisors as the victim.

When it was obvious that I was done brushing my teeth but still standing in front of the mirror, Rhonda, my lovingly supportive wife, said accusingly, “Are you flossing?”  She asked the question like someone might ask their husband, “Are you wearing knee-highs?” as if I was doing something absolutely absurd.  And it’s not that she doesn’t floss; she does.  It’s that she knows I don’t floss.  You don’t live with someone for six years and not pick up on the fact that their oral hygiene is less than ideal.

“Yes,” I replied.  “I can’t do this ‘year of health’ without actually practicing healthy habits.”  And thus I began flossing, just as my dental hygienist had taught me in grade school.  Down each side of the tooth, back and forth.  That particular visit, the one where she showed me how to floss, was uniquely traumatizing for me.  After cleaning my teeth she made a “tsk tsk” sound (I kid you not), brought out a mirror and made me hold it, while she showed me how to floss my teeth.

I wanted to scream at her, “I know how to floss, you patronizing sadist.  I just don’t do it!  There’s a difference between ignorance and inaction…”  But her hands were in my mouth, so all that came out was a muffled, “Oooahhmmmehem.”

But last night I flossed, and then I rinsed with mouthwash.  I actually like that stinging feeling that mouthwash gives a post-flossed mouth.  It’s painful enough to trick my brain into thinking I’ve done something sacrificial, when in reality I’ve just done something that should be done.  Period.

And not just for oral health, of course.  While the links between periodontal health and cardiac health have not been conclusively found, the idea that my mouth plaque could become my artery plaque is gross enough for me to start being proactive.  If you want a brief (and I mean brief) glimpse at this, check out this site complete with diagram of just how the bacteria in your mouth could become the bacteria in your heart, traveling the highways of your arteries to your certain doom.

And you know what, I flossed again this morning, too.  Booyah.