Wednesday, May 17, 2006

national healthcare now! or: the $100 toothbrush

This morning I went to the dentist. Joel Gould and his office are very Manhattan Beach: preppy, tanned, housed in a Spanish-style building with a courtyard. (This picture is from his website. What the?) There were no copies of US Weekly in the waiting room, just stupid Time and of course Highlights, that old waiting-room standby.

Manhattan Beach is an annoying place to hang out, unless you’re looking to meet preppy, tanned, Spanish-villa-living types, but it’s a mostly good place to go to public school (lots of AP classes but also lots of anorexia) and a completely good place to go to the dentist.

The tight-shirt-wearing, volleyball-playing Joel Gould and his hygienist, who was of course named Heidi, confirmed what I always hear when I go to the dentist, which is that I have great teeth and crappy gums. My teeth are totally cavity-free—too bad they’re practically falling out of my head because my thin, frail gums don’t want to hold them in.

“Did we already recommend the Sonicare toothbrush to you?” Heidi asked.

“Um, yeah,” I said, vaguely recalling a flyer that got stuffed in the bottom of my purse after my last visit. “To be honest, I thought about it and then…I just didn’t get it.”

“It will help a lot toward keeping your gums in good shape.”

So I am now the proud/reluctant owner of a $100 toothbrush, my rationale being that gum surgery (which I already had to have once) is about $1,000. I can’t really afford a $100 toothbrush any more than I can afford to see the dentist three times a year, as Heidi also recommended. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I wasn’t even currently making it twice a year. More like every 10 months.)

I have a theory that it is much more expensive to be poor than to be rich. I espouse this theory (which, okay, is probably really some economist or activist’s theory, and not really that original) every time my dad encourages me to go to Costco: “I live in a tiny apartment. While I might be able to afford to buy 80 rolls of toilet paper at a time, I can’t afford to live in the sort of place where I can store 80 rolls of toilet paper. There is room under my sink for exactly four rolls.” I leave out the part about how my tiny apartment manages to store 27 tank tops, a healthy collection of books and at least one My Little Pony.

But I still think my theory explains why the store across the street from me does good business selling single beers and lone tomatoes. And I heard that in the Philippines, you can buy cooking oil by the tablespoonful. Buying in bulk saves money, but buying in bulk takes money.

Heidi informed me that the best place to get replacement brush heads for my Sonicare was Costco.

Dr. Gould informed me that he eats a lot of chocolate and flosses four times a day. Actually, he mentioned the four-times-a-day thing twice, so he’s pretty passionate about it. I’m sure he buys floss by the mile at Costco.


Nance said...

Why are dentists/hygienists so rabid about flossing? I get the guilt trip constantly; so much so that I now do a pre-emptive "Look, before you even start: I don't floss, I'm not going to floss, I'm not a fan of the flossing. I take full responsibility, so let's don't get ourselves bogged down on that, okay?" I have changed dentists TWICE because of the Flossing Guilt Speech Issue. And my teeth and gums? Just fine.

Tracy Lynn said...

I just went to the dentist today. I don't actually have the cavity they thought I had, thank heaven, so they cleaned them then turned me loose.

Terry Pratchett has the BOOTS Theory Of Economic Inequality. A good pair of boots cost $100 and will last you for 20 years. A cheap pair of boots, which will last about a season, cost $10 bucks. So if you're rich enough, you can afford the less expensive option of boots that end up costing you about $5 a year.

This, my dear, is how the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

Schrodinger's Kitten said...

I'm sort of jealous. I not only don't have a cool dentist who wears tight shirts, but I also don't have a 100$ toothbrush. And I don't hang out on Manhattan beach.

I know you're going to kick me out of your 'cool posse' any day now. Sigh.

Neil said...

My dentist sold me a Sonicare. But I few months later, I saw an article in Consumer Reports that studies show that brushing with a regular toothbrush is just as effective. The only difference is that the electric one beeps after two minutes, so people brush longer. Normally, people just brush for thirty seconds. So, probably it would more cost effective to buy an egg timer at the 99 cent store and a regular toothbrush!

Cheryl said...

Now that I know all this, I sort of wish I had some really cool boots instead of a Sonicare.

Claire said...

4x/day? That would just never have occured to me, and I do floss. Only once a day though.

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