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Sunday, 20 October 2013


Teeth are invaluable..I say it again..teeth are invaluable. They're great for tidying up your nails if no scissors are to hand. They come in handy when tearing open those blasted cellophane wrapped whatsoever. They're pretty handy when eating a tough piece of meat or biting through an especially succulent apple.

Without teeth where would we be? Eating pap that's where. Without teeth Heinz baby foods would be on every menu. Just think no Jamie Oliver, no Gary Rhodes, no Masterchef, no Heston Blumenthal. It's difficult constructing a  reality cooking show out of stewed prunes and apple, or mashed beef and carrots. Although no doubt they'd be called "Mon Petit Enfant: Jus de pruneau et pomme" or "Ma Bebe:Confit de canard et orange."

Teeth not only help in cutting through life's tough sinews they help to keep one's face intact.

At this time of year thoughts turn to Halloween witches and old hags. Invariably they have few or no teeth and a sunken arse hole for a mouth. That's because teeth act as a brace - keeping one's jaw firm and square and one's mouth pleasantly shaped. Lose too many teeth and you're in for bone shrinkage, a crumbly jaw and inverted lips. Not a pretty sight.

I can still see Mum's false teeth in the glass on her bedside table. Steradent tablets were as much a part of my childhood as Amami "Wave Set and Conditioner" and soiled cotton handkerchiefs being boiled clean on the cooker.

Mum lost her teeth during the war. She was in the WAAF and was struck down with a very aggressive attack of  arthritis. At the time the theory was that  teeth and arthritis were linked. Pull out the teeth and you improve your health. So Mum at the tender age of 23 had all her teeth extracted.

Her false teeth were over large, which gave her a welcoming if slightly disturbing smile. Catch her without her teeth and she'd be hugely discomfited: a small puckered mouth having difficulty forming the words.

I think I remember seeing her lose her teeth once at meal time. They just popped out as she laughed. We all fell about, although at the table were my assorted aunts and uncles most of whom were wearing false nashers.

It's amazing that I still have all of my teeth except one. The usual dental routine in my teens seemed to be toothache, visit to the dentist's and drilling and filling. Bleeding gums weren't down to bad dental hygiene but bacteria to be zapped with massive doses of penicillin.

I owe my good fortune tooth wise to a brilliant tooth fairy in the shape of an Aussie dentist over here to visit the home country. He funded his trip by working as a locum; although I don't think we'd come up with that title then. This was over 40 years ago.

I'd had a bad tooth yanked out by a primitive dentist (Mr Drill and Fill); envisage tooth attached to string which in turn was attached to a door handle of an open door. Door slammed closed and tooth flies out of mouth and much blood and swearing. It wasn't quite like that but you get the picture.

The next time my teeth were playing up, I tried another dentist. My luck was in because I saw the Aussie. He  first addressed the resulting gap from the slammed door technique. "Hey, sport if we don't tie that little blighter down the teeth in your lower jaw will go walk about - and no Jenny Agutter for company." So he built a gold bridge to ensure that the teeth stayed put. It's a piece of engineering brilliance, sits along side the Forth Bridge or the Leaderfoot Viaduct. He also inducted me into the mysteries of flossing.

It took a while to get the hang of putting both hands in my mouth along with a piece of "0" gauge wire: but I managed. He also suggested that using a tooth brush until the bristles fell out is not best practice. For the major part of my adult life I've been a two brush man and a morning and evening tosser   flosser. My teeth are still with me: bruised and knocked about a bit, but straight and in their right place.

Now, of course, dental hygiene and  its associated regime is a daily military operation. Brushing, not forgetting the tongue (and cheeks if you're anal), flossing and maybe the use of an interdental brush, to clear away the last vestiges of the previous night's roast venison and confit de canard. A brisk flush with that rather over priced dental wash and finally a touch up with the whitening pencil. This last application is essential to maintain the impossible whiteness of your teeth after the jaw dropping expense of the whiting session your dentist conned you into on your last visit.   

Of course, if you're a smoker I wouldn't bother with any of the above. Just have your teeth removed and dentures fitted. They've come on apace since the war.

1 comment:

Steve said...

"no Jamie Oliver, no Gary Rhodes, no Masterchef, no Heston Blumenthal..." Right. You've convinced me. I'm going to get all my teeth pulled today!