One thing at a time

When are folk going to grasp the fact that cleaning teeth isn’t something you can accomplish while doing something else? It is a difficult task, which needs total concentration. In the space of just one week recently there were two occasions when I was requested to do something at the same time as cleaning my teeth.

The first came up during an appointment with my physiotherapist when I was being given exercises for pulled ligaments in my ankle.

‘Balance on one foot when you are brushing your teeth,’ she said. I made no comment, exercising admirable restraint because she was excellent at her job, but the reader can guess what I was thinking.

When I tried the balancing act I found it did indeed take all of my concentration as I am not a natural one-footer, and I certainly couldn’t clean my teeth. Now I am more practised I can manage to floss while wobbling, but it is not easy.

The second occasion was during a television programme about memory. Typically, I can’t remember what the show suggested doing whilst cleaning my teeth, suffice it to say it needed concentration. And as I am constantly telling my patients, ‘you can’t expect the brush to find the surfaces and remove the plaque on its own, you have to guide it and watch.’ We have a long way to go before the complexity of the mouth is appreciated.

On a more positive note, I recently received a hug from a lady and was told I had changed her life. This was because she had come as a new patient, desperately nervous of any dental establishment and all who worked within, and afraid to smile as her teeth were in such a state. Several appointments later she is cleaning very effectively, beaming beatifically and unafraid.

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