Teeth: What are they? Bones?
No, enamel, I think. But what’s enamel?
There’s enamel in my bathroom; it’s covered in pink mold. And what’s so bad about that? My mold is the color of an angel’s cottonfloss dream! As I used to tell my ex-spouse to tell the help, “Why clean the shower? Pink is the new something-something.” Then I would put on some smooth jazz. And then we danced.
Basically, dental hygiene is the great lie of our time.
In the olden days, nobody had any teeth. Just mouth after mouth of woodchips, as far as the eye could see. Then technology invented dentures. My grandma used to keep hers, delectably, in a glass of water on the nightstand. In the evening she removed a part of her body and in the morning reinserted it with adhesives. Fact: science can fake almost any body part. Along with false teeth, there are glass eyes, prosthetic limbs, bejeweled silver noses, jellied gazongas—even wigs made from dead people’s hair! So why take care of your teeth?
The whole life-cycle of teeth is pointless. We are born toothless and incompetent; then comes teething, that great festival of screaming and drool. Then these itinerant teeth fall out, packing entire schoolyards with lisping youth. More teeth come in, including the perversely misnamed “wisdom” molars, only to be crudely wrenched from the jaw like dead stumps from the earth. We get a few good years in, but in old age all our teeth fall out again. Imagine if the same were to happen to our feet! No one would stand for it, ha ha.
Teeth are only a source of anxiety. Think of the most common nightmare—yes, the one where your teeth fall out. Such is the orthodontic industry’s stranglehold that it’s invaded even our collective subconscious, like a sort of lab-coated, chiding Freddie Kruger who offers nothing to read but Canadian Living and, instead of tearing out your entrails, seduces your spouse.
Why go through this? Why tend to and obsess over something that only causes humiliation? Some people floss. Not me! What is that, sawing into your gums with fishing line? Seems weird. Also, floss is covered in wax, i.e. the orange guck that oozes out of your ears and smears your pillow and hardens into greasy clots in the morning sunlight. So flossing is the same as being a cannibal, in a way.
And dentists—don’t get me started on those savages. After “the incident,” I was forced to find a new dentist, who told me to brush with bleach. “Just a little on your toothbrush.” She had some sort of accent, so I thought she might have confused the English word for пищевая сода. “No,” she said, “bleach, like Javex.” Then she laughed in that smug way immigrants do when they are thinking: stupid Westerner. “Obviously,” she smirked, “you don’t swallow it.”
Sometimes I am pretty sure everyone is coming on to me in subtle, strange ways.
Used to be: “Brush your teeth, round and round.” Turns out, this was the dogma of the confused and lost. Now we are told to brush with the grain, like petting a cat. But for God’s sake don’t overbrush! Which means, when brushing your teeth, don’t think about your ex-dentist and how he is making sweet love to your ex-spouse on the floor of his waiting room.
Speaking of revenge, the only practical application of dental hygiene is to clean a toilet with your enemy’s toothbrush and wait for him to contract E. coli. A more devious and comprehensive method involves swapping his toothpaste with hemorrhoid cream, his mouthwash with 2000 Flushes and his toothbrush with a grenade full of bees. This is known in vengeance circles as “The Total Package.”
Barbarism begets barbarism—an eye for an eye for a mouthful of teeth knocked out with a phonebook, as the saying goes. I mean, in the olden days, dentists would at least give patients laughing gas; despite the hacking madman, all your problems would dissolve in a euphoric mist. Now they just stab a needle into your gums and go for it. And we call this progress! A better definition: the audacity of hope. (Let that sit with you a minute.)
Perhaps one bright note is that dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession, right after being Swedish. There’s no joy in terrorizing people’s mouths anymore, it seems—unlike, say stealing a former patient’s spouse and rollicking around town with her in a Jaguar convertible while the cuckold sits glumly in his apartment typing a treatise like, say, this one.
Life used to be simpler. A plaque was something you were awarded for “best buns in town.” As a youngster, I thought gingivitis connoted either a sexual malady or a predilection for Canada Dry. Since my sexual escapades (now, sadly, as then) were limited to frenching my own arm, and my palette for soft drinks tended toward colas and “dews,” I felt safe. What a fool! And what a fool the dentist makes us feel on every visit—an occasion for scolding, bleach, torture, and adultery.
Enough, I say! Let us cast off the shackles of our oppressors, with their latex gloves and shifty masks and massive pectoral muscles. Don’t go to the dentist! Don’t be duped by the charade, clearly one designed only to disgrace some and press close to others, and fondle their mouths, and blast great orgasmic founts of water down their throats and then proceed to less metaphorical procedures with the chair pushed all the way back.
I have a toothache. A toothache of the soul!
Pasha Malla’s debut novel People Park was published in July. Reprinted from Maisonneuve (Summer 2012), a Montreal-based quarterly magazine that covers arts, politics, ideas, and anything else eclectic and curious.