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For once, I had time to spend 15 minutes on my teeth. And boy, did it feel good | Hannah Jane Parkinson


A couple of years ago, after coming out of a secure psychiatric ward, I stayed for a couple of weeks in a crisis house. The crisis house is the stepping stone to being fully integrated back into society and one’s regular life, which for me basically means drinking a borderline obscene amount of Diet Coke and sending dozens of inappropriate gifs in the middle of the working day.

My room was quite dinky but the bathroom was huge, and this made me feel safe. Possibly it was the bars on the window. Recovering from – I’m not sure this is the technical term – a detonation of one’s brain is a lot to do with routine: I was given sleeping pills, and my usual meds were administered at regular times. What social media and women’s magazines now call “self-care” takes priority. Part of this was my pre-bedtime rituals, which switched from one-too-many cognacs and verbose texts to what I can only describe as an ascetic teeth-brushing regimen.

Of course, before this I wasn’t brushing my snappers using a twig and the ashes of oxen’s hooves (truly, modernity has blessed us), but I also wasn’t spending the 15 minutes on my teeth that dentists seem to think we have of an evening. Except that at this time I did have it. I set out my tools on the side of the sink as a surgeon would: tongue scraper; tongue brush; one of those weird double-ended picks; a frankly disgustingly expensive electronic toothbrush; a strange dye that shows up plaque; two different types of toothpaste (because why not?); floss and those interdental brushes (because why choose?).

Sure, you might say this was an attempt to introduce some control into my life, but every single night I had that feeling we all know from leaving the dentist after having our teeth professionally cleaned: when you feel as though your teeth could also produce that cartoon glint in the adverts; when you run your tongue across your central incisors and they feel as though they are made of silk.

These tiny grooming actions we perform can somehow make a big difference when we feel crap. Taking a long shower, slapping on face cream – I’m not saying that having the teeth of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is gonna fix all your problems in life, but it does feel good. It does, somehow, make a glass of water taste purer. It does – look, I don’t make the rules – fill one with a sense of a wholesome resetting.

Source: TheGuardian