Techno Teeth

brushing_1.gif It took me less time to learn how to ride a bicycle than to use an electric toothbrush. When I was seven, I was able to stay balanced and steer my two-wheeler after about two days of effort. I�m 56 and have been using an electric toothbrush for several years now and it dawned on me this morning that it's only just recently that I finally got it nailed.

oral_b_1.jpg There are many modern conveniences that frustrate and madden us but few are purposely designed to make us feel stupid. The electric toothbrush is one of these. With its lure of 10,000 vibrations a minute promising to power off even the slightest traces of last night�s Dorito binge and a built-in timer that absolves you of the responsibility of determining if you�ve brushed enough, the techno-brush seems to be a positive boon to humanity. But I learned something different when I first brought mine home.

After anxiously waiting through the mandatory new battery recharge period I was raring to go. I placed a judicious tab of blue and white brightening toothpaste on the bristles and turned it on. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE. If you forget to wait until it is entirely in your mouth before you turn it on 10,000 vibrations per minute splatter 10,000 bits of toothpaste across the walls, ceiling, bathroom mirror, and your face, arms, chest and neck. Fifteen minutes of scrubbing and scraping ensued. For the sake of science I have recorded that an Oral-B can project a one millimeter blob of Colgate 11.5 feet (3.5052 meters). I expect to see one of these used on a cable home redecorating show soon for creating faux speckled wall treatments. They will probably use paint, though.

I now placed the toothbrush into my mouth, turned it on and merrily started brushing as I usually did. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO. The Oral-B whips saliva and toothpaste into a frothy concoction with 30 times its original volume. It also manages to keep it at your exact body temperature, making it a stealthy mixture. Within thirty seconds a steady stream of white, toothpaste thickened saliva started running down my chin. Peering past the speckled white spots on the bathroom mirror that I had missed from MISTAKE ONE, I saw the techno-age equivalent of the village idiot drooling back at me. I reached for a hand towel.

That was when I noticed that the effluvium was also running down my hand, past my wrist, and dripping off my elbow onto the bathroom floor. This Colgate lava flow had managed to miss the tiles and congeal in the fibers of the bath mat. MISTAKE NUMBER THREE. Turning to look down at the mess on the floor was the incorrect response. My mouth was now wide open with a vibrating stick sloshing around about a quart of foaming saliva that was pouring out like the spillway at the Hoover Dam. It cascaded over my teeth and lips, landed on my foot, and began to seep between my toes.

I stepped off the mat to get a bigger towel. MISTAKE NUMBER FOUR. Toothpaste laden saliva makes a great lubricant. (NASA uses this stuff to squeeze astronauts into tight space suits.) The foot slid out from under me. Reacting naturally, I reached out with both hands to grab onto anything that would prevent me from cart wheeling my skull into the edge of the vanity. The still-running Oral-B emerged with a few tablespoons of the foamy sludge still attached. The resulting spray, combined with the wide arc of my flailing arm, painted a Jackson Pollack splay of blue and white constellations across the wall and ceiling above the towel rack. I missed the vanity edge and landed on my ass - in the middle of the mess from MISTAKE THREE.

I checked for broken bones and wiped my hands on my legs. The toothbrush timer went off. It was time to stop brushing.

That was back a few years. It�s taken a while but I�ve developed all the necessary techniques to competently brush my teeth now. I stand with feet slightly spread for stability. I brush BEFORE I shower. I wear nothing that doesn�t look good with little white spots all over it. The toothbrush is held with the handle higher than the bristles at all times, affecting the look of a jazz trumpeter hitting that high note. My left hand clutches a hand towel that constantly travels across my chin. I�ve learned to spit into the sink without removing the toothbrush from my mouth. I try not to look in the mirror.

I�ve gotten so good at this I could probably do it while riding my bike.


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This page contains a single entry by published on June 2, 2004 6:15 AM.

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