Meditations on Obamacare
I was talking to a Persian Dentist Friend of mine today about the historic health care bill; he filled me in on what "le monde dentale" thinks about the legislation.
All of the new dental thinking is about floss;
In this it resembles the thinking from the pre-invasive
age of traditional dentistry. The idea, for example,
that inter-dental plaque is far more ruinous
than what forms on the surface.
That even toothbrush motion probing the gum line
at a suitable angle and pressure is, by its nature,
limited to a superficial scrubbing of our least
vulnerable enamel. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one time
at which it is ideal to floss, a Kroger's
in one's pocket signifies sound hygienic habits.
We talked about it during an old man's root canal -
the dental hygienist and I - as she noted
the decay hidden behind his pearly surface.
After a while, I understood that, without floss,
brushing this way, everything dissolves: wisdom,
incisor, premolar and molar. There was a woman
whose teeth I cleaned and I remembered how, holding
the water pick in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent sense of impotence (for I had
told her to floss and gargle with salt before bed.
She would not listen). Tilapia, broccoli, a granola bar
and muddy chunk of Toblerone, un-removed since their
consumption yet she would not floss. It hardly takes any time.
Lodging, we say, because the mouth is full
of endless crevices - her breath smelled as it tastes.
But I remember so much, the way her back teeth trapped oats,
the way that bits of carrot agitated her swollen gums.
There are moments when the mouth is as numinous
as words, days gums do not bleed. And yet such tenderness
as flossing may engender is well worth the power to
remove blackberry, toast, and other food particulates.