She is a buxom woman in her late 60’s from the Eastern Bloc. She communicates adequately in English, although with a strong accent. The lady sits in the dental chair and informs the dentist of her chief complaint. The medical history reveals nothing untoward, other than her having well controlled hypertension. The dentist carries out an examination and notices that she still has most of her teeth, and that they are in impeccable condition. This is a surprising finding, considering both the patient’s age and background. The dentist, intrigued, decides to turn detective and enquire as to how she manages to maintain such a beautiful smile. The patient appears pleased and is all too eager to pass on that she simply keeps a healthy diet.
“And I’m sure, a strict teeth cleaning regimen. So, what type of toothbrush do you use?” the dentist asks, “Hard or soft?”
She looks surprised and replies in her thick accent; “Toothbrush? Oh, no, I do not use toothbrush.”
“What do you mean?”
“I never use toothbrush.”
“So what do you use instead?”
The dental assistant, who is standing beside the patient, immediately breaks into a broad grin, her eyes dancing with mischief.
This information proves difficult to fully process.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I always use steel wool to clean teeth.”
The dentist stares at her dumbstruck; speechless. He suddenly visualises this woman simultaneously scrubbing her pots and ivories. Hmmm….that’s efficiency for you, I suppose. He tries to think back to all he has learnt during those undergraduate years, to deal with this unorthodox disclosure, but his mind is a gaping, black hole. He is ill equipped to make any reasonable reply without digging a hole for himself. He is also certain, that nothing he preaches will compel her to try a more appropriate tool. He does the only reasonable thing, and that is change the topic.