Life is returning to normal. But where dental health is concerned, normal may not be good enough.

According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even BEFORE the pandemic, one-third of American adults under 65 hadn’t had a dental exam or cleaning in more than a year.

That is a disturbing statistic. If Annie was correct in singing, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile,” an awful lot of us are going commando.

I’m not into floss-shaming, but I conscientiously kept my six-month checkup appointment earlier in July, and I hope I can convince a few of you to get back into the dentist’s chair.

For the sake of full disclosure, many of the newspapers in which this column appears derive part of their income from advertisements for dental practices. That does not influence my message. So, head out to the nearest dental clinic, allowing plenty of time to stop at a local diner, buy the dentist’s receptionist an arrangement from a local flower shop, and window-shop area homes represented by a local Realtor. And if some jerk runs into your car in the dentist’s parking lot, there’s always the personal injury attorney on page 7. *Ahem* But I digress.

According to the report, race, income and urban/rural divisions play a part in how likely one is to skip regular dental care. And I certainly think towns, charities and dental schools should brainstorm ways to make affordable dental care more widely available. Patients need to shake off defeatism and be more proactive in seeking solutions to logistical/financial obstacles.

But even some affluent white urbanites with five clinics within bicycling distance forego regular dental care, because of various exasperating attitudes.

Some cowards have adopted the “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” philosophy. Wallowing in blissful ignorance, they go whistling past the graveyard. These people are not popular with the cemetery groundskeepers, as they keep spraying out loose molars and bicuspids while whistling.

Some are just too rebellious for their own good. (“Rinse AND spit? Oh, yeah, The Man would really love for me to be another brick in the wall like that.”)

Others procrastinate because they have assigned dental care a low priority. (“After I’ve become the first person to win a Fortnite tournament on Mars, then I’ll see about this constant throbbing in my jaw that makes me want to blow my brains out. Unless they schedule a Fortnite tournament on Jupiter…”)

Come on, people! Gingivitis and malocclusions aren’t the whole story. Poor oral health can also aggravate conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes!

We must get dental hygiene under control before job interviews become a disaster. It’s mortifying to be told, “I’m afraid you’re not a good fit for our company. Do let the door hit you on the way out; it might dislodge whatever crawled up in your mouth and died!”

Get on the routine dental care bandwagon before you get caught up in the inevitable future voter ID laws. Voters will be required to bring the glass containing their teeth so they can be identified at the polls. (“I protest! This is unfair! What? This is a casino, not the local precinct – and I’ve been pulling on a slot machine instead of a voting machine? Guess that’s what I get for avoiding the OPTOMETRIST for the past five years, too.”)

Danny welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

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