If something got stuck in my teeth I think that I could be driven insane by it. I am not sure if I have gotten over the trauma of the orthodontist, and the bizarre tiny tortures my mouth endured for my formative years. when preparing my haphazardly engineered teeth for braces, the orthodontist’s assistant would put tiny rubber bands between them to stretch the spaces enough for the wires. The rubber bands felt like fibers, chunks of meat threaded through the gumline. They could not be sucked out and they would make my entire jaw ache with the pressure of its own immobility.
My face was sore from the age of ten to about fourteen, when I refused the sensible aftercare of my retainer and my teeth grew in rebellion back to a shadow of their original configuration. This was dumb but also gave my teeth some character, an attitude, a pride in its imperfection, which then spread over to my entire being. My teeth are now not quite as white as they were, but they serve me well, which is not bad as I head into the half century mark.
My good dental hygiene plays a role, and when there is anything stuck in my teeth, I consider it a state of emergency. Every meal isn’t completed until my teeth are gently cleaned afterwards. It’s a form of dessert, the brushing and flossing, which sounds austere and monastic but it is actually refreshing. I have to do this because if there is something in my molars, a tender thread of spinach or kale reaching up to tickle the back of my throat, a hard bit of bacon wedged in the cracks, protein particles of dubious origin reminding me constantly that I haven’t been a good custodian of my mouth, I will lose my mind.
It has to do with the pain of orthodontics haunting me orally and also I had a really bad thing in my teeth last year. I had a terrible fruit fly infestation, which crippled me socially, as I could not entertain anyone while I was hosting literally millions of adult flies and larvae. I slapped flies on my arm and would actually catch two of them, in the middle of fly sex, one inseminating the other as they flew slow and heavy in the air above me, their flight path slowed by the intimacy of the act. One fly managed to swoop into my nostril and down into my lungs and I could do nothing but inhale it further to stop feeling it bang against my throat.
I felt something in my teeth, but I didn’t have time to brush and floss so I left it. I thought, I will take care of this in a little while. I don’t need to deal with this now. I felt the little thing there, but I didn’t do anything. The particle dislodged itself and floated around my mouth for a time, but then went back into the space between my teeth. I felt it and finally I caught it with my tongue and put it on my finger for a brief inspection, one of those quick checks where you deduce what it is before swallowing it. It was a fruit fly.