COLUMN: It seems not all teeth are pearly white

You know how it is … you’re watching TV, a commercial comes on and you pay no attention until “the key words” are spoken ...

You know how it is … you’re watching TV, a commercial comes on and you pay no attention until “the key words” are spoken, and they resonate.

This was the case the other night, when I heard “more people own smart phones than own toothbrushes”!

By the time I looked up, the commercial was over, so I have no idea what it was promoting – mobile devices or dental hygiene.

Either way, if true, it is a shocking revelation.

Since I was watching a Detroit-area station, I assume the “more people” statistic referred to Americans, which is both startling and sad that more people in the “land of opportunity” value their fancy phones more than (or are unable to afford to) maintain their teeth.

Of course, what is common south of the border is generally common here, too.

Which says a great deal about the priorities and cultural mores of North Americans.

It also says a lot about the way we communicate these days … why bother to smile, speak or meet face-to-face when all anyone seems to do these days is talk and text.

And with rotting teeth and halitosis, the result of those who don’t brush, perhaps that’s a good thing.

While I’m not a compulsive brusher, I do visit the pearly whites at least once per day, and spend as much as a smart phone on regular dental check-ups.

I am also a hoarder of old toothbrushes, more of them sitting around in tin cans in my workshop than I care to count.

They are handy little scrub brushes to clean stuff, allowing me to get at the grime and mung collected in the tiniest nooks and crannies.

There’s even a couple of new ones stashed (in containers) in the console of my truck, in case I forget my shaving kit on trips out of town.

And in my bathroom more reside for daily use, to clean teeth rather than tools.

They, however, aren’t seeing the action they formerly did since I acquired a slick electric model promoted so often on TV, perhaps only on stations other than the one noted at the opening of this commentary.

Amazing contraptions they are in the cleanliness they deliver, their little rotating bristles delving between the molars.

One thing I discovered, just prior to spending 10 minutes wiping toothpaste off the bathroom mirror, the counter and my chest, is that you don’t turn them on until they’re in your mouth!

I also learned the true meaning of “gag reflex” when I used it to clean the back of my tongue.

However, like everything else, there’s a learning curve, and I am finally comfortable with mechanized toothbrushes.

I can’t wait until, like smart phones, the latest must-have version debuts. Then the old one will be happily put to work as a cleaning tool for things less sanitary than my teeth.

And perhaps by that time, I’ll also have learned how to fully use the “smart” capabilities of my mobile device, and should I get a “face time” phone call, at least I’ll have clean teeth to smile with.