Brush Your Teeth!
There seems to be a common trend in society right now about having to do less of stuff for the same results. Only exercise 20 minutes a day 3 days a week! With this pill, lose more weight in 2 weeks than in 2 months with diet alone! Make thousands of dollars a week stuffing envelopes! There's just one problem: there is no shortcut to real results. This especially holds true with personal hygiene.
When I say there's no shortcut to real results, I'm being very specific. Sure you can cut corners for short-term gains, but in most situations that only leads to more work down the road to correct the corners you cut, and it actually means you do more work for the same results rather than less work. I may do a full article on this concept at a later date, but for now all you need to know about it is that there's no substitute for doing it right in the first place.
So how does this idea of no shortcuts meet up with hygiene? It happens through the concept of toothpaste, mostly. Well, not so much the concept of toothpaste as the advertising of toothpaste. How many times have you heard something like "brush once and it lasts for 24 hours!" on TV? If you believe the ads and only brush once a day, you're doing it wrong.
Let's face it: nobody enjoys brushing their teeth. The promise of only having to do it once a day has a certain type of allure. A white, shiny, glistening, glow-in-the-dark type of allure. There's just one problem: you still need to do it more than once a day!
What you need to understand about such claims is that they're made with specific people in mind, and they're limited in scope. Your teeth may be protected from rotting for 24 hours, but that is dependant on what food you eat, and it doesn't cover other problems your teeth and mouth may run in to.
Wait, the toothpaste that works for 24 hours doesn't actually work for 24 hours? How could I say such a thing!? Well, let me elaborate. Like all such claims they are made about specific situations and circumstances. Some food is more corrosive than others to your teeth. Sugary food, for instance. If you only eat food that isn't hard on your teeth, then they'll certainly be safe for 24 hours. If you eat food that's harder on them, though, then I assure you they won't be.
An even better example of this concept is seen in the food guide. You know, that little chart that says how many fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and meat you should eat each day? The only problem is that chart was developed for people in a certain age group who are in perfect health. If you're a 78 year old woman with diabetes and a mechanical liver, your dietary needs may be different. Similarly, if your diet isn't the one the toothpaste manufacturer had in mind, your tooth brushing needs will be different than once every 24 hours.
Of course, that doesn't take in to account how others will experience your teeth, either. There is this problem, you see, of the state of your teeth impacting others and influencing their treatment of you. If you brush once after you wake up, and then have a tuna sandwich for lunch with extra tuna, your breath is going to smell like salty fish for the rest of the day. The original tooth-brushing recommendation was that you should brush after every meal. Did you really think the only reason for that was the condition of your teeth?
Personally, I believe you should brush your teeth whenever you're leaving the house and have eaten or slept since last brushing, and before bed. If you eat while out, carry toothpicks with you so you can clean your teeth afterward. I'm tired of meeting people who obviously have no concept of proper mouth hygiene. My sense of smell is terrible, and if I can smell rotting flesh on your breath, it's pretty fucking bad.
Taking care of your teeth is important. It's especially important when you have a job in the food service industry. A couple years ago I took my girlfriend to breakfast, and our waitress was a thin and wrinkled 60-something year old woman with teeth so disgusting I literally lost my appetite when I saw them. They were misaligned, stained, missing in some places, chipped in others, and this is the person who's going to be bringing me food. I was so disgusted I didn't even tip her, and I'm a very good tipper. If ever there was a posterchild for the importance of maintaining your teeth, this woman probably scared that child to diarrhea with hers.
The simple fact is that the state of your teeth impacts others, and you shouldn't be so lazy as to not take proper care of them. Brushing your teeth takes 1 minute, maybe 2 if you're thorough. Toothpicks can be grabbed for free from many restaurants. There is no good reason to neglect your teeth. Trust me, everyone you meet will be inwardly grateful, even if they don't know it.