I Am Dad, Destroyer of Toothbrushes

Three electric toothbrushes stand sentry over my side of the sink. Why? Because: Dad.
Three electric toothbrushes stand sentry over my side of the sink. Why? Because: Dad.

Three Electric Toothbrushes: Dadtritus Alert

Is it just me, or do most Dads mow through toothbrushes with our mighty molars at a pace that leaves them buzzing and stuttering in our wake?

To wit: at last count, I had not one, not two, but three Philips Sonicare models of various vintage standing sentry on my side of the bathroom vanity, while my wife’s lone toothbrush, sleek and clean and in no way showing its age, fixed them in its doleful glare from her equally clean and pristine sink.

Can’t be just me, right?

Dad's side of the master bathroom vanity
The depths of my sink do gross out even me. But what’s an earnestly brushing boy to do, but smear toothpaste indiscriminately in his herculean efforts?

Tough Bristles are Hard to Find

I am an incredibly thankful man, absolutely blissfully blessed as a Dad and husband. And though every marriage and family has its share of fighting, and tears at times, I’d consider the 18 years my wife and I have spent in cohabitation nearly always harmonious.

Though, being your average big, bustling, messy guy, I realize what an exercise in patient indulgence that can be for my wife.

I remember — fondly, now, and certainly with grateful tenderness then — how, on the eve of our wedding in September 2002, I’d already been living two months in our eventual shared apartment in an old house in Naperville, Illinois, my wife packed up her single gal belongings from her pad in Wheaton and trucked them down to share space with my bachelor belongings.

Tears were shed. Exclamations made: I have to live with a BOY?

You find out: you grow into each other as you grow up. And that adjustments are made over the course of a lifetime.

But I’ll admit to the lopsided score, on the whole: guys kinda suck in the cohabitation department. Take this from a man who has thrown out his share of dishes — in my younger years! nary a dish since, oh, age 24 or 25 — due to their sitting patiently on the side of the sink, waiting for a day of cleanliness that, for their own growing funk, never, ever came: yeah, we can be a bit much to bear.

Nowhere, perhaps, is this in more ample evidence than the typical state of my bathroom sink. You know, compared to hers.

My sink — pictured above — is repository for all manner of post-clean-up residue: dried shaving cream, clotted beard stubble, bright green chards of fossilized toothpaste, the odd expectorated snot. Its banks are lined with deodorant and mouthwash and aftershave gel, my razor, tall and travel size shaving cream, and various ointments I neglect to use and that, thus, are coated with a gentle sussurance of dust.

Delightful, right?

My dear wifey’s side, on the other hand, is sparklingly bright in its cleanliness. The soap dispenser is full. Cotton balls neatly stowed in a cute little container bearing the legend SOAK. Toothbrush smartly standing on the charger. Towel not even damp. It’s like her sink went on vacation, had the deep tissue massage and the hot stone treatment, and emerged, supermodel-like, from the emerald fringes of some hypnotically lapping Mediterranean lake, the dappled shadows of dawn bathing it in alternating, flattering curtains of light and shadow.

Did I mention she has a lone toothbrush standing smartly in the charger? About that.

Three electric toothbrushes in various states of use
Like wizened soldiers, my platoon of electric toothbrushes is ready for the punishment I will inevitably dish out.

Toothbrush Down: Who’s Got Next?

A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent.

So said Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, when the crowd assembled witnessed a detonation test on July 16, 1945. A line from the Bhagavad-Gita ran through Oppenheimer’s head: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Not to compare my daily toothbrushing routine to the inception of nuclear warfare, but….

I am Dad, destroyer of toothbrushes.

As the grandson and great-grandson of dentists, and the son of an artist-turned-dental-assistant-turned-artist-again, I have long held to a healthy oral regimen. This Crest kid has never, officially, had a cavity. Though, I guess, my long habit of chewing ice, and my acquired taste for coffee, and sweets, have led to a few sealants, lately.

I’ve been told I’m an excessive salivator — hey, Ladies — which minimizes tooth decay. So I’ve got that going for me. But also leads to faster tartar buildup, so you win some, you lose some.

I also learned, at a particularly candid dental appointment in 2008, I’m one of the rare individuals who has a Cusp of Carabelli — read all about it here in a youthful version of Dadsense — basically, an additional bump in my molars. !!! Gee, wow, go and tell your friends!

But no expert in this world, or any of the others, has been able to explain to me why mere electric toothbrushes can’t stand up to my Herculean brushing.

I mean, I acquired a nice giftset of his and hers Philips Sonicare brushes, with charger and UV-light head cleaner, back in 2012. The immediate affect was to render my mouth, at least — just as I have chosen to treat my wife’s pristine sink with discretion and not share photographs here, I will pay the same wise courtesy to the state of her mouth — so spic-spanningly zim-zammingly clean that I wanted to run a bowlful of chili through said face hole, just to experience its cleaning power again.

That lasted, faithfully, for a few years.

But then said miracle machine began to wear down. Its former fighter squadron buzz draining to more of a wayward honeybee drone. My mouth left lip-wrinklingly mortal.

So, like Pavlov’s creaking wallet, I dutifully clicked on Amazon and got sent a new model.

A couple years went by and that one, too, has been sentenced to the retirement home for formerly buzzworthy dental implements.

But do good toothbrushes ever die? No, no. They just take up space on my side of the sink.

So I’m a few months into my newest Philips Sonicare, and I don’t know why I hang on to the others. Maybe to prove my account of the old models losing their vim and vigor? As if an eyewitness oral hygiene team is going to roll up, shine their klieg lights on our narrow little en-suite bathroom and put my claims to the test. Or, maybe in case we discover the Fountain of Toothbrushing Youth, able to restore that first, miraculous model to its years-ago glory? There are certainly other things I’d put ahead of it on the list: the luster of my wedding ring, the collars of my favorite shirts, my youthful sleeping ability.

Occasionally, I’ll reach in the general direction of these faithful soldiers, bleary eyed in the early morning, or stumbling just before bed, and slap some toothpaste on an older one, fire it up, and then recoil at the gentle buzz, fumbling away at my eager ivories. Gack! Carabelli save me! Then subject it to a shameful rinsing, fling it back in its dark corner.

I gotta have the new. Only the best for Mrs. Foutz’s boy’s teeth, thank you.

Now, this random website devoted to all things oral hygiene noted the average lifespan of toothbrush heads, which, granted, I am particularly hard on, but was mostly indecipherable when it came to the life I should get out of my rechargeable toothbrush, or what to do when the motor is noticeably worn down from my repeated, superhero brushing sessions. But in the past, when I’ve looked it up, the whole exercise devolves with advice about soldering irons, and safe disposal, and so forth.

And so, my regiment of soldiers grows.

In the end, I suppose, we pursue the course that is best for thrusting us into daily life, rendering us fit for contact with others. No matter the state of our well-used and (gently) abused sinks. May my darling wife have mercy.

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