A fuss over flossing
January 22, 2009 6 Comments
Flossing is a strange beast, and, if you’re like me, it doesn’t go down quietly. I brush my teeth twice a day without complaint and yet I’m lucky if I floss once a week. My resolutions to floss more are broken at least as often as my resolutions to stop procrastinating (the two might be related). But while procrastinating has its consequences, none of them are quite as punitive as that painful trip to the dentist – what should be a routine cleaning always becomes a torturous test of my pain tolerance.
Eschewing the wonders of novacaine may have something to do with the amount of misery these visits inflict, but I know deep down that the real problem is flossing. (That, and letting two years go between trips to the dentist – but that’s another story.) I know I should floss, I know why I should floss, and yet I don’t floss, and I have the tartar buildup to prove it. Is it that flossing didn’t become a part of the holy canon of physical hygiene until after I’d become set in my ways? Or are the benefits – removing that offending bit of corn aside – so long term that my mind refuses to process them? It certainly seems to be the latter when I’m debating whether to floss or get three more minutes of sleep.
If the physical arguments aren’t compelling enough, perhaps the financial ones are. Let’s use my recent visit as an example. A regular cleaning costs about $60 with a discount program like VitalSavings. “Deep cleaning” – nowadays done with ultrasound-equipped scrapers – costs about $135 per quadrant, or $540 for the entire mouth. In my case, I got a 4-for-3 deal (poor grad student FTW!) but had additional charges for the general exam and x-ray updates. Assuming I’d gone to the dentist four times in the last two years and had flossed regularly like I’m supposed to, I would have spent maybe $300 on dental care. Instead, I spent close to $500.
Were those minutes of sleep collected over two years worth $200? Probably not. Were they worth the hour I spent with my mouth open and high-pitched buzzing sounds reverberating through my head, white-knuckled fingers gripping the armrests as piercing bolts of hurt shot down my nerves? Hell, no!
So, this time I’m determined to be good about flossing.