Going to the dentist is like going to the gym. For some it’s a perennial traumatic endeavour put off as long as possible even though it’s good for the mouth if not for the soul. A few days before my visits I make sure to floss enthusiastically and brush diligently twice a day each tooth, between the gaps, over and under the gum line and then gargle more than the usual cupful of Listerine. But my dentist isn’t fooled by this kind of tomfoolery. He (always a he) always finds something the matter which I now put down to trying to justify his fee. Then he sends me down the hall to the hygienist. Now that is what I find truly scary. She (always a she) taps here and there and on cue, to my shame, there’s blood and a frown on her face. “You’ve got just a bit of plaque and tartar build up behind the last bottom tooth on the right, where your brush is probably difficult to reach.” And: “Do you floss?”. Yes. “What kind of brush do you use? Is it an electric brush?”. Yes. She cleans and polishes and ends with the school card report: “You really must do better with your technique and flossing”. I pay you to be told off. Thanks.
So there, like going to the gym, brushing needs to be consistent and efficient every time or else one is liable to waste time, energy and money. Correct brushing requires patience and steely determination (am I over doing this?), the sort of determination I observed in the latest series of Masterchef Professional. I stumbled upon this programme after hearing colleagues discuss it at work. Many of the contestants were impressive. Girls and boys whose sole passion is food. Phew. When I try that I don’t get better at cooking, alas, I eat and my stomach extends and bulges. What really got to me were the semi-finals and final when the contestants were sent off to Michelin star restaurants and to Noma in Copenhagen, currently voted the best restaurant in the world. I once ate there and I can vouch for its uber-fantastic-ness. Watching chefs cooking under pressure and creating dishes not eaten by Queen Victoria or any Tsar impresses on the mind what it takes to be at the top of one’s game. Getting things done excellently well at a level that drops jaws of peers requires inspiration and supreme mastery of technique. Inspiration requires talent and time to let the mind conjure and experiment which is why many top restaurants don’t open all year round. Technique on the other hand can only be acquired by sweat. I’m not sure if Einstein got it right describing genius as 1% inspiration and 99% sweat but I’m willing to trust he was near damn close.
Who knows, maybe developing a good brushing technique might well be one key to living life to the full. One tooth, nay, one day at a time.