4,368 Minutes

For several years my mother worked in a dental office. This meant that from an early age my oral hygiene was taken seriously. I was in the dentist's chair every six months like clock work. (And in those days, you couldn't eat for 30 minutes after the fluoride treatments. No joke, 30 minutes! Talk about time standing still. It didn't matter if it was meal time or not, just knowing I couldn't eat made my stomach growl. It was painful and an early sign of my issues with gratification delay.) In the midst of awkward adolescence, I had teeth pulled to prevent overcrowding in what I had always been told was a BIG mouth. Nothing like missing teeth to make an image conscious pre-teen feel pretty. I suffered through a head gear, braces, rubber bands, and a retainer to achieve the perfect alignment. And who could forget the agonizing torture that my mother inflicted every few months as she brushed my teeth with baking soda and salt? She had to physically restrain me as the chunky paste coated my teeth in order to prevent discoloration. After all that time and (my parent's) money, my teeth are an investment. Without a doubt all the anguish has been well worth it since I've been complemented not just a few times on my smile.

One would think that having endured what I have over the years for my smile, I would treat my teeth as prized possessions. One would think.

Last month we found a new dentist. When I sat in his chair it had been three years since I'd darkened a dentist's door. Pathetic.

As a reward for my neglect I was informed that I'd entered the early stages of gum disease. Rather than a simple cleaning, I had the pleasure of enduring a "deep" cleaning. Which really just meant they were going to pick around UNDER my gums, nearly drown me and use some sort of "ultrasonic" torture devise to convince me to never wait that long to see a dentist again. A couple hours (30 minutes waiting in the lobby watching The People's Court + the procedure time) and $300 AFTER dental insurance later, I was sent on my way with specific instructions on follow up care.

Now, I'm the first to admit I have not always been a faithful flosser. But since the initial diagnosis I've been committed to flossing and brushing twice daily. However, this in no way prepared me for what is now expected of me. Both morning and night I am to brush my teeth for 3 minutes, floss and then use Listerine (she was very specific about brand here) for 2 minutes. So, if you're doing the math... 6 minutes of tooth care twice daily for one week is 84 minutes. When you look at a whole year's worth of oral hygiene (excluding my 2 cleanings, of course) we're talking about 4,268 minutes. That is 72.8 hours! Insane.

A clever co-worker suggested that I watch a movie in 6 minute increments so that I don't feel as though I've lost the time all together. By the end of the month, she quipped, I will have watched a whole film. Which got me thinking. By the end of the year I will have finished 40+ movies. That's not too bad. Talk about multi-tasking. I wonder if I can convince the handsome hubby to install a flat screen in the master bathroom?

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