This Thanksgiving I’m very grateful for teeth, specifically my teeth. Nothing’s wrong with my teeth. They’re all still there, I just think you have to appreciate the things you have BEFORE you lose them, like your teeth. Otherwise you’re just another one of those people who whine about their crappy life and their stupid missing teeth.
SOPHIE: “<sob sob>”
ME: “Aw man, Sophie’s crying again. I bet it’s about her fucking missing teeth again!”
YOU: “Hi Sophie…”
SOPHIE: “Hey everybody. I’m grateful that I used to have teeth. I miss all the fun stuff I could do with them. ”
YOU: “Oh, that’s sweet of you to reminisce about your teeth.”
ME: “Yeah, that’s rich. Could you please pass the corncobs and candied apples?”
SOPHIE: “I DON’T HAVE TEETH ANYMORE!!!”
ME: “Yeah, yeah. Cry me a river, princess.
YOU: “Hey man, that’s uncalled for! She doesn’t have teeth!”
ME: “Look, nobody wants to hear her selfish bullshit around the sacred Thanksgiving bird.”
SOPHIE: “<sobbing into the sweet potatoes>”
ME: “And stop crying into the fuckin’ sweet potatoes!”
SOPHIE: “They’re yams!”
ME: “No, they’re fuckin’ sweet potatoes! Look it up! If you had any fuckin’ teeth, you could at least do that much!!”
Those of you who know me are aware that I have always taken tremendous, embarrassed pride at my perfect teeth. My teeth are straight, they are white, they shine with moisture and can win over any subversive with a short flash of my dreamy pearls.
But those who REALLY know me, (and if you didn’t know this, this doesn’t mean that you are not my friend, or that you are not a loyal fan — it only means that you didn’t know something about me because you’re not as close to me as you might want to be,) know that I’ve only been to the dentist 4 times in my entire life.
When I was a young boy I would beg my father to take me to the dentist. I’d clip out ads from the PennySaver or those coupon Val-U-Paks that come in the mail. Clippings with large bold print which advertised “FULL DENTAL CHECKUP + X-RAYS + CLEANING = $5”. I’d tape the scraps of paper to his bathroom door, sneak into his car and leave them on his dashboard and hide them in his wallet when he wasn’t looking.
My pops had gotten the hint after a few years of this that I really wanted to go to the dentist. I’d started to wonder if it was just a casualty of Reaganomics, his aversion to paying out the $5, but the truth was that he was so well aware of the litany of handsome perfection he’d created when he’d had me. One morning after I’d asked him for a trip to the dentist, he brought me in front of the mirror and said, “Smile, son.” I obeyed and smiled. “What good would ever come from spending money on these teeth? We might as well save the $5 toward that kitten you wanted.” I did want a kitten, after all, so it made sense. And he was definitely right about the quality of my teeth. Every time we’d visit the supermarket, the checkout ladies would all coo over my gorgeous eyelashes and fawn over my teeth. “Oh, you have such a wonderful smile. Did you know that you have a beautiful smile? Oh what straight teeth — Did you ever wear braces? I’ve never seen teeth that bright!” It was truly embarrassing and this type of oozing over my handsomeness never went away entirely. How could it?
On my 14th birthday my father cheerfully decided that it was time to humor me. He unstuck one of my dental coupons from his bathroom door and he slapped a fiver on the receptionist desk at the dental office. I got a good cleaning and a fluoride rinse. That was nice. I was intrigued by their frightening tooth-mangler apparatus. They poked and prodded and scraped and tapped. They were baffled that I had no signs of cavities or any history of dental procedures. It was a very pleasant experience for me aside from some discomfort at having their weird, pokey, water-leaking tools jabbing into the more sensitive parts of my mouth.
“Visit the dentist every 6 months” is the official recommendation by every dental professional, national health official, elementary school teacher and man-on-the-street, but the next time I would visit the dentist was 11 years later. That was embarrassing. When you go to a new dentist they always ask you, “How long has it been since you’ve seen a dentist.” When you answer “11 years” they act a little incredulous.
“Yeah, but it’s not as bad as you think, I’ve never had any dental problems. Not even a cavity!”
“Well, we’ll see about that. It HAS been 11 years, hasn’t it?”
“Well yeah, but I don’t have any pain or anything.”
“Cavities don’t always cause pain. Anyway, we have an opening next week…”
I rolled into the office and they put me through the usual battery of disbelieving questions. “So you’ve never had a cavity?”
“Not even one?”
“Not even in your baby teeth?”
“No. I didn’t go to a dentist for the first time until I was 14.”
“So then how do you know you never had a cavity?”
“Well, I never saw anything wrong with my teeth. Never had any pain or anything.”
“Didn’t we already tell you that cavities don’t always cause pain?”
As you would anticipate, the dentist didn’t find any cavities then either.
I went to another dentist about 5 years after that, and again I received the usual incredulity. “It’s been 5 years? You need to go to the dentist every 6 months.”
I argued, “Why do I have to go every 6 months if I never have any problems with my teeth?”
“Because going to the dentist is how you prevent problems from happening to your teeth.”
“But I don’t have any problems with my teeth.”
“How do you know if you never go to the dentist?”
And so I visited a dentist about a week ago, and all of the dental technicians praised my enamel, the straightness of my teeth, and the virgin quality of my mouth. They took digital photos of all of my teeth, x-rays, cleaned them, yadda. The dentist asked me if I’d ever had any teeth pulled. “No.”
“No? You’ve never had any teeth pulled?”
“Not even your wisdom teeth?”
“How often do you go to the dentist?”
“I’ve only been to a dentist about 4 times in my life.”
“4 times? You should go every 6 months!”
Another glowing bill of health. No cavities, etc. I didn’t expect anything different. When you’re born with the curse of unbridled handsomeness as I was, going to the dentist isn’t something you ever need worry about. At this stage, the only reason why I go to the dentist is because I like the feeling of extra-smooth teeth, and I get a kick out of shooting water out of the new-found gaps in my beautiful smile. I’m sure you are all wondering what my secret is to perfect dental hygiene. What do I do that’s so special that I’m rewarded with a Christ-like smile? Really I don’t have an official formula — I just go about doing my own thing. But if you follow all of these rules, maybe you’ll get perfect teeth. **
* Be born handsome. Handsomeness yields perfection from head to toe, skin to spirit.
* Have a straight set of teeth. I’ve never had braces. I have an overbite, but it works perfectly.
* Drink 2 liters of diet cola each day.
* Eat lemon wedges whenever included with iced tea. Eat the lemon rind as well.
* Don’t bother flossing. Use dental picks. They’re like soft plastic toothpicks with a brush and a pokey.
* Chew plastic. I’ve chewed plastic since I was a kid. Battleship pegs, straws and other soft plastics.
* Drink alcoholic beverages.
* Stay away from cigarettes.
* Have a pH neutralizing saliva.
** These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA or ADA and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease.