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Twice a day
by Asa Butcher
2008-10-14 09:46:37
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The imminent arrival of our late-maternal Grandma when my brother and I were children would send us into a dental frenzy. The first thing Grandma would do was check that our teeth were nice and clean, so as their car pulled up the drive we would be frantically scrubbing our pearly whites and consuming obscene amounts of toothpaste. Occasionally I would hide my brother's toothbrush - just as older sibling's do - to ensure that he would be "spifflicated" by Grandma and I would get all the praise!

When I was young, the task of brushing my teeth twice a day was pushing the boundaries of boredom and even today it is an extremely mind-numbing task, albeit a necessary one if you want friends and loved ones to talk to you. Dental hygiene may be a hassle for many, but it is so important for children to have it instilled in their daily routine from a very early age or they will suffer the effects until their teeth are sat in a glass beside the bed.

This week Finland's national broadcaster YLE reported on the worsening condition of Finnish children's teeth by revealing that only about half of all twelve year-olds have a healthy smile. According to statistics, less than 40% of boys between the ages of 14 and 18 brush their teeth twice a day, while for girls the number is over 50%. At an age when appearances are becoming of the utmost importance to many teenagers it is bizarre that teeth are overlooked.

It is the duty of the parents to teach and enforce dental hygiene from a very early age to ensure that it becomes second nature. When my eldest daughter's teeth began to pop up from their snug gummy home we began to brush them with a special baby toothbrush and now she does it herself with her own toothbrush and special strawberry toothpaste - of course, Daddy or Mummy has to do a "check" with "checking paste" on the brush.

You may be surprised to learn that children's dental hygiene doesn't start and end with brushing twice a day. In fact parents should never ever share the same cutlery or toy instruments to ensure that the bad bacteria isn't passed on to the child through spittle. Apparently children don't have this bacterium in their mouths and the longer it stays out the longer their gums and teeth will remain healthy.

Part of me suspects that my wife was a dentist in a past life because she takes our daughter's dental hygiene so seriously. Not only is she enforcing the tooth brushing and the avoidance of spittle swap - just ask my dad who had a toy trumpet ripped from his hands before he knew what had happened - but she also makes our daughter chew gum after every meal and gives her a Xylitol tablet before bed - Xylitol is a "tooth friendly" sugar.

It is a matter of pride for my wife that she doesn't have any fillings - compared to my own six, or is it seven - and she takes great pleasure in reminding me of this whenever I mock her three-minute brushing routine. I can only hope that this dedication to her teeth filters through to both of my daughters… failing that I will have to paraphrase my dad's own words of foreboding, "Just wait until the dentist's drill starts up for the first time!"

Did you hear about the tooth fairy?
She has buy-molar disorder.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-10-14 11:02:44
I trust that the literally foul mouth on the cover is not that of Mark Strand who has been eating poetry! Did Plato have it on target after all? Art's representation is twice removed from reality...His prognosis of creating mental and ethical hygiene by removing the foul mouths (i.e., the poets) from the Republic in obviously misguided; even foul mouths have a right to free speech albeit remaining aesthetically repulsive to most people.

Joe2008-10-14 12:05:13
I bow in respect, Mr. Paparella. To move from children's dental hygiene to Plato in one move defies belief! Nicely done.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-14 12:27:46
I like to make connections, Joe. That explains why I like Ovi magazine. It leaves readers and writers free to do just that and refuses to give in to the intellectual bully out to impose his particular view of reality.

Clint2008-10-14 13:16:25
Lets hear it for Joe. My 'pearly whites' are grinning with amazement.

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