Discover more from Discourse Blog
Groundbreaking Inventions In Dentistry Have Changed My Flossing Routine Forever
The gaps between my teeth have never been cleaner I am stronger than ever I will live forever I will never die
For many years I have had a strained and troubled relationship with the dentist. Namely, this relationship is that I did not like going very much and it was expensive when I did go. Also, when I was a child, I was so terrified of what they were doing all up in there when I was getting some fillings that I once had to be put under general anesthesia in order for the dentists to be able to do their thing. There may have been more to it than that but I was seven, so. The anesthesia made me barf later that night into a big orange bowl that I think my parents still own. Later on in life, when I had to pay for my own teeth and was no longer on my parents’ good dental insurance, I just sort of stopped going, because even though I could see cavities forming and insisted on drinking at least 24 ounces of Diet Coke a day, nothing was really hurting so who cares, right?
This is not the case. People cared. Specifically, the dentists, some of whom were in dingy family offices staffed entirely by unsympathetic Eastern Europeans who tried to upsell me on many things and loaded me with insurance paperwork that I did not understand. But that was a year ago, and I am now proud to announce that thanks to the new app-based model of probably venture-capital-funded millennial minimalism-aesthetic dentistry at Tend, my teeth are back on track, baby!
My gums are clean—power-washed out with some disturbingly tiny device—and my cavities are filled. Yesterday I had my first root canal, which was fine and did not even hurt, and next week I will finish my dental journey with a polished porcelain crown. I am going to celebrate by getting a new mouthguard fitted for the gym and also by drinking 24 ounces of Diet Coke. But that is not the real point of this blog. The real point of this blog is How I Learned to Floss. Here is how I learned to floss:
These little fuckers. These guys. I have a bag of them in my desk drawer at all times. This is the most brilliant invention of the 21st century. Maybe of the 20th century. Wow. Wikipedia tells me that these guys were invented in the ‘60s, or perhaps the ‘70s, or perhaps way earlier:
In 1888, B.T. Mason wrapped a fibrous material around a toothpick and dubbed it the "combination tooth pick." In 1916, J.P. De L'eau invented a dental floss holder between two vertical poles. In 1935, F.H. Doner invented what today's consumer knows as the Y-shaped angled dental appliance. In 1963, James B. Kirby invented a tooth-cleaning device that resembles an archaic version of today's F-shaped floss pick.
In 1972, an inventor named Richard L. Wells found a way to attach floss to a single pick end. In the same year, another inventor named Harry Selig Katz came up with a method of making a disposable dental floss tooth pick.
B.T. Mason, J.P. De L’eau, F.H. Doner, James B. Kirby, Richard L. Wells, Harry Selig Katz… I thank you. My gums thank you. I use the fruits of your minds and labor and creativity every day.
Even after all of the tireless work that the nice venture-capital-funded dentists have done to me, my teeth have large gaps in between them in which food often gets stuck. It is this feeling, more than any particular desire for self-preservation, that gets me to floss—and the fact that these little picks are so good. There is no twisting around your finger. There is no rolling it out and using the little cutter thing to get the right amount. There is no “throwing it in the toilet when you’re done instead of the trash for some reason so the next person who uses the bathroom thinks they have a tapeworm,” which is something that a friend once did to me. No. The pick is simple and perfect. You keep a bag in your desk and you floss after you eat your sad desk meals and then your teeth feel clean.
What I can really thank these picks for, though, is letting me meet one final personal milestone. They have unlocked something within me that I never thought would be there. It makes me feel strong and powerful in a way that few other things have. And that is when I go to the dentist and they ask: “Have you been flossing regularly?” Now, for the first time in my life, I can say, with complete honesty, “Yes.”
Unfortunately, the last time I went to Tend, my hygienist didn’t ask me that—perhaps it is not in the Tend standard operating procedures?—which ultimately makes this a story about how private equity is ruining America. Fin.