We’re at a Loss with Floss

As I have previously stated, I take issue with the dental industry.  I maintain that teeth should be removable.  Or we should all be able to unhinge our jaws like certain reptiles for easier cleaning.  But as a forty-something mammal, those options are not available to me.  …yet.

One of the silliest of all dental creations is floss.  You pull a piece of thread with an overdeveloped sense of importance about itself off of a spool.  You wind it around your finger, hoping against hope that you will retain circulation in your fingers while allowing a firm grip on your “essential” dental tool.  Then you cram said floss in between each and every nook and notch in the hopes that shoving the floss down will not prevent the unwanted materials from coming up with the floss. 

Where to begin?  Firstly, the floss is there to injure your gums.  The tough love policy is in full effect here.  If you are doing it “right”, the floss beats up your gums so much that they no longer bleed.  If you hold off on flossing, your gums bleed.  If you beat your gums into submission, they will put up a fight and stop being so wimpy about perpetual abuse.  Constantly assault your body.  No pain, no gain.  Oh floss, what a cruel mentality you advocate. 

You will accept the terms of the “protection” that is offered, or you and your establishment might get roughed up a bit.  Youse would not wish to turn down such a generous offer that is being proposed, would youse?  Go ahead and use the floss and we will not have any bloodshed.  The boss, he don’t like youse to undergo any such painful circumstances that could have otherwise been avoided. 

Next, and more egregious in these financially stressed times, is the unforgiveable waste.  Take a gander at the photo evidence.  On the left is a brand-new container of floss.  I have used none of it, but the container looks more than half empty.  Toothpaste tubes come so full that the slightest pressure sends the goop gushing out.  Toothbrushes are used for three to six months.  (And after that, they get a new life as bathroom-scrubbing tools.)  Floss though; floss is the racketeer of the dental world.

The white container on the right gets a bit of a pass.  It was free.  The manufacturer gives a trial size to the dentists who give it to the patient.  The manufacturer wants to create brand-loyalty, the dentist wants you to floss your darn teeth so they will not get blood on their hands next time, and the patient, like all good consumers, will take anything that is free.  The container is nowhere near full, but you still make out a winner.  Free is free.  Even though there is a vast area left to fill; we take the five yards of string and say thanks.

The green pack receives no kind treatment from me.  The package states that forty yards are present.  I feel confident saying that one hundred yards would fit.  There is plenty of room.  Make like a gas attendant in the fifties and fill ‘er up. 

Okay.  You get it.  The floss has plenty of elbow room.  Now comes the greatest of all crimes perpetrated to demoralize humanity.  In order to use the floss, you have to accept that ninety percent of it will never touch your teeth.  You pull a foot-long stretch from the spool.  You wrap it around each pointer finger three times.  Then you wrap it around your pointer and middle finger to alleviate pressure from the first series of wraps.  In order to attain the right amount of tension, you use up eleven inches of floss and leave a piddly inch-long span to work the teeth.  I said racketeer and I meant it.

There is no recouping dental floss.  No rehabilitation process exists.  They have found a use for cigarette butts.  They use those to line nuclear reactors.  It is true!  Cigarettes, which cause wildly destructive harm to the teeth (and also; y’know, cancer), can still serve a purpose afterwards.  However, used dental floss?  There is no hope for that.  (And if there is, I would rather now know.  If there is an afterlife for floss, it would be right up with there with saving fingernail clippings.  We can skip right over that deeply disturbing conversation, thankyouverymuch.)

Forty yards, and all I get out of the pack is forty inches?  “Here ya go sir, this ten percent is all yours!”  Oh, thanks.  You are too kind.  No, really.  Take my car, please.  It is the least I can do to repay your generosity.  I am forever in your debt. 


Justifying dental floss is like trying to explain why you need an outfielder in “that area over there”. 

“Look, Lou, how often does the ball get out there?”

“I dunno, Bud.  Maybe ten percent of the time.”

“You are telling me that ninety percent is a waste?  He’ll just be there, pretending to work while we keep paying him?”

“That’s how we play the game.  That ten percent we actually get work out of ‘em, it sure is swell.”

“Uh huh.  I hope he feels important and highly valued.  Somebody get a MVP award for this guy.  Tell ‘em he’s a credit to his family and we’re all honored he’s on our side.  For Pete’s sake…”

The temptation here is to go the cheap route.  “I am wise to you, dental profiteers!  I will simply buy the cheap stuff and make do!  Ha!”  Nope.  Not if you have tight teeth like me.  When that happens, the teeth snag and tear the frail fibers.  Upon trying to cram floss betwixt and between your teeth, you find yourself with two sections; one for each hand.  And, in the midst of the battle, a lone soldier has stayed to fight the good fight.  A piece of thread remains wedged in the foxhole, refusing to surrender. 

And how do we get something that is stuck from our teeth out?  Yep, with floss.  Grab another strand from the spool and get to work.  Reenact Saving Private Ryan and send the guy to get the guy out.  Only when the battered floss is free can the world be safe for caramel apples and Fourth of Julys.

Nothing will change.  They know we must floss.  On this matter, we can be bought.  Our price point is anything that keeps us from a drill.  If we can keep our dental expenses down and our mouths free of Novocain, we will play along.  I just want to make sure that they know that we know.  I suspect that they know that we know that they know. 

One day the battle will all play out on the big screen.  The racketeers, the baseball players, the soldiers; they will all be there.  The action, the suspense, the wheeling and dealing; we will take it all in as we munch on our popcorn. 

Aw, crud.  Pass the floss, will ya?

About Cosand

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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