This is how I get all my hot dates.
“Hi, I’m Pepper. I don’t brush my teeth. Want to make out?”
But really. I don’t brush. This is the point at which back-pedalling usually becomes wise. “Well, no, of course I brush my teeth, that would just be ridiculous. Honestly.”
But I do not. My name is Pepper, and I do not brush my teeth.
Except for when I feel like it or when I consume carbohydrates, which might be once every day or every other day or five or so.
So shoot me. I do brush my teeth. I’m a little bit of a liar. But I don’t do it for hygiene, and I do it very reluctantly, and infrequently, and angrily. Fuck you society! Who are you to fuck up my teeth and then make me give you money to fix them? Who are you to tell me what to eat and what to clean? Who are you to create banes of humanity such as gingivitis and root canals?
When I do brush, it’s for vanity’s sake. It’s true that they look a bit whiter having residues scrubbed off of them. I’ve whitened them before, too. I really do care about my teeth. I also always make sure my breath smells nice–I’ve spent much of the last few years asking very blunt people about my odor just to make sure–so that’s a big motivator. But other than that, I just don’t do it. I don’t enjoy brushing my teeth. It’s a waste of an entire 12 minutes of my day, which adds up to more than 4000 minutes per year. I suppose it does give me that “clean” feeling everyone raves about, but what if my mouth never feels dirty in the first place? What if it’s never swimming in plaque? What if I never put garbage in it, so no swarms of bacteria can ever fester?
Because I don’t. And that, my friends, is my case.
This is how we develop cavities:
Bacteria are always present in our mouths. They help enzymes in our saliva break down food, and then they get to enjoy the kickback benefits of their altruism, which is a benevolent living environment. What’s more, in today’s day and age, they get to go crazy. Our sugar consumption is through the roof. Given that glucose is saliva bacteria’s preferred fuel, sugar enables them to hang out on the surface of our teeth and multiply. Proteins in our saliva help them stick together to form a plaque biofilm (ever feel like your teeth are fuzzy? This is it.) A byproduct of glucose metabolism is acid. Acid leaks out of the plaque biofilm and onto the surface of our teeth, reacting with the basic Ca/Mg carbonate, and dissolve s it. Poof, there goes our bones. Voila, here come the fillings.
I have yet to find any reference online about bacteria in our mouths consuming anything but sugar. And surely you’ve noticed as well– that ‘fuzzy tooth’ feeling really does only follow carbohydrate consumption. With a diet low in carbohydrates, plaque builds slowly. A day or two can pass before anything might seem even the slightest bit off, and then one can brush, happily.
These bacteria are also the ones that go wild at nighttime and give us morning breath. So, while my morning breath definitely hasn’t disappeared, it’s certainly become more pleasant since cutting carbs. I like this. A few other people in my life have enjoyed this too.
That said, we have conventional wisdom to thank (again) for a whole host of unpleasant diseases. Bad breath, cavities, tooth erosion, gingivitis, perionditis, and something really pleasant called trench mouth.
The absolute worst part is that no one seems to make sense of the correlations between dentistry and wider health. Idiots. Gum disease is widely known to be associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pancreatic cancer. This time, it’s the Harvard School of Public Health claiming that “our study provides strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.” Jesus. Can they never look at the bigger picture? What do diabetes, tooth decay, and the pancreas have in common? With heart disease and stroke on top of that? I know that these are just correlations, and that I cannot just fling my hands around in the air and shout “meaningful cause and effect! meaningful cause and effect!” the way the Harvard researchers are doing, but I am going to continue to be angry when I brush my teeth. I’ve got a hunch about the connection between these diseases, and I will not go down without a fight.
My name is Pepper. And I do not brush my teeth.*