Monday, February 20, 2006

Eat Well Brush Often

Today I share a cautionary tale of danger and woe encountered along the rocky road to healthy eating. Heed my advice, lest ye fall victim to the same trap.

As I lost weight, I expected pitfalls such as slow weight loss or crankiness (due to constricted chocolate consumption). I was caught off-guard by higher dental bills.

Please know me better. As unlikely as the comparison, I’m anal-retentive about oral health. With the money I spent on my last series of dental adventures, I could have single-handedly revived our economy. I have willed my teeth to my wife - as they are the most expensive items I possess. Thusly, to protect these valuable investments, I brush and floss with hyper-regularity.

Still, I find myself visiting the dentist due to an eye-watering stab when I chew on anything with more substance than strained peas. Waiting in the dental chair - noting how much the room looks like an executioner’s chamber - I try to will away the toothache with positive thoughts of zero-calorie cheese and peanut butter that flattens abs.

I’m transported out of my fantasy as my dentist enters the room, studying my x-rays. “You obviously have good oral hygiene…” he starts.

I detect a “but” coming. Jeez, I hate “buts.”

It hits. “…But you have cavities in your back teeth. Do you eat a lot of sweets?”

“No.” I make clear I’ve lost 70 pounds and eat a balanced diet, high fiber foods and complex carbohydrates.

“Oh,” he says. “That explains it. Make sure to brush extra carefully with carbohydrates. They turn to sugar and attack the dentine, causing decay. Eat more protein too.”

“But protein is higher in fat. I’ll gain weight,” I explain as he prepares to excavate.

Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve lost the weight that always plagued me by eating healthier. Yet I’ll lose my teeth if I’m not careful. My option is to eat as I did and have healthier teeth - but die early of a cholesterol-induced, weight-related heart attack.

A morbid vision invades my thoughts. Mourners are filing past my casket, commenting between sobs, “It’s tragic he died so young - and that he put on all his weight again. But, wow, he sure did have great teeth.”

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