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Goeun Park: If only the tooth fairy had taught proper brushing techniques

I went to the dentist this afternoon and learned that I needed eight cavities filled, two root canals done and three wisdom teeth pulled. I don’t remember who was more horrified by the diagnosis, my dentist or myself.

Just looking at my roll of floss at the moment feels like a stab of betrayal. All those years of religiously following a militant oral routine for a bacteria-ridden and cramped mouth in the prime of my youth. Bottles of mouth rinse and boxes of whitening strips, all for naught. What can I say? The tooth fairy must be cruel.

That, or I don’t know how to brush my teeth properly.

It’s such a simple thing, brushing your teeth. How can anyone over the age of 10 (and almost 20) mess up toothbrushing? There’s no way I could have been doing something so basic wrong for so long.

Except...maybe...  it’s a possibility that I didn’t quite know how to brush my teeth properly. (Brushing sideways is a big no-no. Not brushing the inner surfaces is an even bigger no-no.) As the dentist explained to me the correct techniques, I could do nothing but nod along in an embarrassed stupor.

Since today’s appointment, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection.

I’ve been living by myself for a little over a month now and it has been an...illuminating experience. Having a roommate first-year acted as an excellent buffer for my inner slob. But this summer, I have no incentive to keep my space clean and functional.

I survive off stale bread and instant noodles before because going downstairs to make actual food in the kitchen sounds like agony.

As a college student, I can probably get away with my slobbish ways. Society wouldn’t be too mortified by my pile of dirty dishes and closet full of dirty laundry.

While it’s not a big deal now, I’m not terribly keen on my lazy ways becoming a permanent habit. If I could wreck a couple teeth by not brushing my teeth correctly, imagine what would happen if I got used to living in a human pigsty. I could be featured on “Hoarders.”

So starting this month, I am going to go back to the basics of acting like a respectable human being. I will stop crying how I’d rather crack open an organic chemistry textbook than do my laundry. I am going to wash my dishes, make my bed, sweep my room and brush my teeth properly. It can’t be that hard, right?

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.