Sharing a lifelong saga of toothiness

I’m noticing a large social gap emerging between generations these days. It’s not the techie age, spawning a divide between the haves and the have nots, such as smart phones and iPads – or the techie know-how versus the no, how? generation you might be thinking of. It’s teeth. White teeth.

Elyse Kaner
Elyse Kaner

The other day I was faced with somewhat of a conundrum. I ran out of toothpaste. Which type should I buy? There’s no shortage of brands on the market, that’s for sure. I’m not looking for a whitening paste that comes with a warning of “could cause snow blindness.” Or the kind so powerful one needs turn away for fear of being stricken by an odd phenomenon. Toothitis, for example. Nor am I looking for a migraine-inducing polish that shines in my visual memory long after I flip the channel on a few TV anchors flashing their überly brightened and distracting smiles.

I’m just looking for a tooth paste that will whiten my teeth, freshen my breath and keep my pearlies healthy. And it can’t contain fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfates (foaming agent) or artificial sweeteners for that matter. OK, so my Woody Allen tendencies are kicking in here. But I believe you can never be too careful when it comes to your choppers, ones you hope will carry you throughout a lifetime.

I do confess to having visions of ending up in my old age looking like one of those rotted-out, caved-in pumpkins left outside in the cold too long after Halloween. Toothless to the nth degree.

“Your teeth are your best friends,” my mother used to say. She said that about my feet, my legs, my eyes and other body parts, too.

She’d pull the teeth-best-friends routine before I, as a child, was slated to visit the dentist. I was so terrified of the dreaded drill, I put up a fuss for days. So my mother resorted to springing the news on me half an hour before the appointment. After getting over the shock, she would drag me screaming and fretting to the dentist. The mammoth swordfish he had hanging on his wall (he had good teeth), didn’t help either. Regardless, I visited the dentist regularly in my youth. (Thanks, Dad, for all of the tasty sodas. We had cases in our basements. That’s not to mention the Kool-Aid we drank by the gallons poured from a special frosty-looking, plastic pitcher sporting a big smile on it. A smile that required no special tooth paste for teeth whitening.)

Ever since the tooth fairy first paid a visit and left a coin under my pillow in exchange for baby teeth that had outgrown their usefulness, I’ve been enamored with enamel, intrigued with toothy goings-on.

Yes, even my fourth-grade teacher got into the act. Each day after lunch, he would walk through the desk aisles. We opened our mouths and he checked our teeth. Did we brush or didn’t we? He promptly recorded our answers in a little book. (It was a time when students walked home for the lunch hour.) Maybe he was a wannabee dentist. I don’t know. But my mother always thanked Mr. D. for instilling a tooth-brushing routine into my life at a young age. Today, he would probably be sued for bicuspid invasion.

Now, in a day of cosmetic surgery, big teeth, veneers, implants, composite (mercury-free) fillings and 2,000 types of tooth pastes – one for sensitive gums, insensitive gums, fluoride-free, fluoride-filled, baking-soda infused, all natural, unnatural, foaming agent, anti bacterial agent, talent agent… you catch my drift… a decision to go white and bright is becoming more and more difficult.

The generation divide nags at me. The whites versus the yellows. Heck. In ads, an announcer shouts “Look younger with a whiter smile!” Who doesn’t want to look younger?

After checking out a myriad of products I have finally settled on Jason PowerSmile all natural whitening toothpaste. For now, it fits the bill for my ingredient requirements. The price is right, about $6.

The last all natural tooth paste I bought was about $18 dollars a tube. Spearmint flavored from some exotic plant in the Amazon or who knows where? Didn’t help much. So much for expensive personal hygiene products. We’ll see if Jason brightens my day and others who have to look at me.