... I saved my teeth, money and learnt a lesson.
I grew up learning, that you brush every night before going to bed... but could actually skip it altogether.
I never got into the habit of brushing at night as a child.
I would amble to bed, night after night, using every possible excuse in the book to not brush. I can't forget my dad's looks of disappointment. But that made no difference. Staring at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep, seemed more interesting than trying to impress dad by brushing after dusk. I hated it.
It was one problem less to have, for a 'busy' ten year old.
At fifteen, in the middle of breakfast one day, something cracked in my mouth; It was my first premolar... of a series of many that would need fixing.
Dad looked on, unconcerned, as I garnered sympathy from mom and my sister, after campaigning hard.
We rickshaw-ed to a dental clinic. Got appointments for treatment, bought Farsan and returned home. (This visit would turn out to be a godsend. We found an exceptional clinic that I frequent to this date.)
In my late teens, I started smoking and avoided looking at the tobacco stains that were forming on my teeth. But whenever I noticed stains on my fellow smokers' teeth, I shuddered at the thought of how horrible mine must look to others.
But smokers never point that out to each other. They are very supportive like that.
I had a few more cavities filled over the years. A root canal here and there. I still was not brushing at night. I was convinced that that was not the problem– science didn't have "all the answers" and I, too, felt lazy.
On another ocassion, I tried to undo a stapled pin from a document that I was in a rush to submit. It was the last day of college, so I wanted nothing to come in my way of leaving the place. The stapler came undone and so did parts of my front tooth.
I wasn't exactly pleased. These were incisors after all, my front yard. I couldn't hide the damage. The dentist opined that it was not the best idea to pull out unyielding shards of metal using one's teeth.
A few years later, I made another visit due to a dull tooth ache. I feared how many teeth needed to be worked on. I hadn't let myself down– six fillings and at least one root canal.
I underwent treatment for multiple sessions that spanned over a month. I had worked hard to earn the juicy fat bill I received. It was bad. I asked the dentist suspiciously if there were "genetics at play here", since I had stopped being a smoker by then. The dentist said one couldn't be absolutely certain and that there were multiple factors that could cause caries.
I finally gave up the fight and started brushing at night.
And flossing. And using a tongue cleaner. Every night. I haven't stopped since.
Five months ago, I made my first ever 'voluntary visit' (before pain) to the dentist . There was a minor filling that was completed in one session. And my dentist remarked that I was maintaining my teeth really well. How could he tell?!
I smiled sheepishly for that pat on the back.
I don't know if my brushing twice a day and flossing every night had actually helped, but I was doing my part.
And I didn't feel guilty.
I liked that.
My next visit is due soon.