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. . . And He Keeps Them Pearly White

White Teeth

by Marko Peric

Let's get one thing out of the way right now: I brush my teeth. Twice a day as a minimum, and three times is hardly uncommon. I even floss with some regularity. While my teeth may not be gleaming white or perfectly straight, I'm generally quite happy with them. I haven't had a cavity in years, I've never needed braces, and my wisdom teeth have caused me only moderate levels of unpleasantness, at least so far. As far as the dental lottery goes I may not have won the million dollar jackpot, but I'm matching four numbers and that's good for two hundred and eighty seven dollars. But back to teeth.

Now, I understand that some people have teeth that aren't so good. Some have teeth that are downright terrible. Granted, many of those are British or hockey players, but many are not. Overall, though, most adults I know have teeth that are at least half decent (although for some this was augmented by a little orthodontic wizardry).

Most of us have okay teeth. So why do I encounter advertising for dental hygiene products at every turn? It seems as if Crest and Colgate are spending more promotional cash than the cola companies (which is another rant for another day). Over the last couple of years I've seen more different Listerine commercials than I can count, many featuring a doofus in a mouthwash bottle costume. Still using a conventional toothbrush? You're obviously stuck in the 20th century, because apparently if your toothbrush doesn't spin, pulse, or otherwise oscillate it isn't doing enough to fight the combined evils of plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. Need to clean your teeth on the go? Oral-B makes something called a Brush-Up which slides unto your finger and you apparently rub it on your teeth — no water or toothpaste required. They also make a power flosser, which in my opinion is a product our society needed almost as badly as artificial dog testicles. Listerine is now making something called PocketPaks, which apparently contain mouthwash in a solid state, and which I suspect is merely a glorified mint product.

It's all about combining your efforts these days. I have a toothpaste that allegedly combats all of the aforementioned ills, in addition to decay, cavities, and unwhiteness of teeth. This is apparently the biggest problem with everyone's teeth, since unless your choppers boast a gleam that outshines freshly bleached porcelain, you might as well be helping the terrorists win. I'm not sure why we need our teeth to be so bright, but you can now choose between toothpaste, paint-on bleaching products, whitening strips, or even gum to polish your enamel.

I'm all for having healthy teeth that aren't hideous or falling out. They come in ever so handy when my favourite little restaurant is having their $9.99 steak platter special. But there is no good reason for teeth to be whiter than new fallen snow. At least, none that I can think of. And there is no reason to use antibacterial mouthwash on a daily basis — most of the bacteria in your mouth are actually helpful. As long as you brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly, visit your dentist occassionaly, try to remember to floss, your teeth are probably going to be okay. Just make sure not to catch a puck with your face.

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