Reality bites

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My teeth were stained from over-indulgence in black coffee and red wine.

And, although apparently an improvement since my last cleaning, there were some areas where my flossing fell short.

The hygienist said my fangs needed fixing, and I wasn't sure how much until she donned a hazmat suit and broke into "Danger Zone" from "Top Gun."

OK, I'm terribly, terribly sorry. That was a fib. A visit from the truth fairy is in order, and I realize my sense of humour, or lack of one, is like the plaque. I'm at a floss what do about it.

Pathetic puns aside, the hygienist broke out the tools, and got me to hold the hose that sucks away the crud. Obviously, she had no idea I am the most unhandy man on the planet. Those crows who use sticks to poke out garbage have more co-ordination than me. Every person within a 30-mile radius of my dentist's office should have been placed on high alert. In my hands was a tool that, given my track record, would unintentionally become a weapon of mass mis-suction.

Unaware of the impending danger, the hygienist went to work, masterfully scraping, hooking and scratching my teeth. It wasn't the most pleasant experience, but I endured the pain, because that's what us men do.

Every few minutes, the hygienist would take the hose from me, put it in my mouth near where she was working, and ask me to bite.

This pattern - scrape, scour, bite - continued for 43.453 hours, or at least that's how long it seemed because I missed two nights of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

As the hygienist stressed the importance of better flossing (like I had never heard that before) she told me to bite.

As she suggested one of my wisdom teeth was an impediment to good cleaning (like I had never heard that before, either) she asked me to bite.

And as she warned me about the coffee and wine consumption (I've heard that before, too) she requested that I bite.

It soon felt like we were in perfect hygienic harmony. She'd chisel and scrape with precision and I'd bite on time. It was music to my molars, tuneage for my teeth ... but, still, a pain in the gum.

We reached a rhythm where the hygienist didn't have to tell me when to bite, or at least that's what I thought - until I chomped when I shouldn't have!

It took a second or two to realize, but it was mortifying to discover my teeth around her index finger, not the hose that was still in my hand.

A wave of embarrassment flushed over me. I apologized profusely for biting her and she assured me it wasn't a biggie.

Still, I left the office feeling like a complete idiot.

Gawd, I couldn't even co-ordinate something as simple as holding a hose and biting when asked.

That tooth hurt a lot more than the cleaning.


Steve Bartlett is going back in a few weeks to get two wisdom teeth pulled, as if he could afford to lose any wisdom. Follow him on Twitter at SteveBartlett_ or send him an email at

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