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National Editorials & Columns

Lying through my teeth

Oh, I will start flossing right away. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. You know, I have been meaning to floss for many years. 

I just don’t like it. It is a pretty gross thing to do on a routine basis. I am also afraid that a tooth will come popping out. I know that’s unrealistic, but that’s one of the main reasons I don’t and never will floss.

But this time, I swear, I am going to start flossing right away, every day.

I make those declarations every six months to dental hygienists, usually as I am resting horizontally in the dentist chair feeling more like a death row inmate giving his last words before a lethal injection.

“Oh, I’ve never flossed before, but I’ll start flossing now. You’ve set me straight this time for sure.”

I have been saying that for years. And if you heard it, it meant you were the recipient of a well-crafted falsehood based on an empty lie. Every time the words roll off my lips I know as I am saying them I am lying straight to their surgical-mask-covered faces. But this time I mean it — honest engine, I do!

I recently made similar guilty pleadings to my oral hygienist, Doris. I have known Doris for four years and visited with her every six months since, on top of every filling and tooth removal in that time as well.

Doris is the kind of lady that puts you in a good mood and she always has a smile on her face. That’s pretty typical criteria I look for before I allow a stranger to start sticking pointy metal objects in my mouth and making my gums bleed.

You can’t really lie to a dentist. I can’t neglect my mouth for six months, brush my teeth the morning before I go to a teeth-cleaning and say something like, “Oh, yeah, I brush twice a day, never drink soda and haven’t had a cigarette in what has to be years.”

Plus, it seems silly and counter-productive to me to lie to a person I am paying to see. So I am very forthcoming with notifying a dentist I don’t floss whenever one asks me. I always feel guilty admitting I don’t floss, almost like someone giving a Catholic confession. Forgive me, Father, for I have not flossed.

I know I should start flossing. I’m a moron, but unlike most morons walking around on planet Earth, I am self-aware. 

I realize the consequences of not flossing vastly outweigh the merits of flossing; that yes, flossing is super gross but so are dentures.

And you know what?

Don’t care. Still not flossing.

Despite this indifferent attitude toward flossing, Doris still slipped in four meters of mint-flavored floss in the parting gift goody bag the dentist’s office gives you before they slap you on the posterior and send you on your way.

Like, what do they want me to do with this floss? Hang myself with it?

Because I would rather hang myself with it than floss my teeth.

This latest visit to the dentist’s office was one of the first times I was told that I have no cavities. It made me feel like I got an A on a report card, except I don’t know how that actually feels so maybe that is a poor analogy to use.

So I figure I owe it to myself to start flossing after years and years of neglecting my teeth. This time I mean it. This time I am not lying. 

I really will start flossing my teeth even though the thought of it turns my stomach.

I promise I will start flossing. I swear, this time I mean it.

This time I am telling the tooth.

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