Brushing teeth

Over the sink.  Reaching out to grab the toothbrush.  A familiar movement, a familiar contact and texture.  The other arm picks up the toothpaste.  The first manoeuvres the toothbrush inside the palm, freeing up the thumb and index finger to unscrew the lid.  In a many-times exercised motion toothpaste is swiped on, the lid is screwed back and the tube rested on the cabinet.

A smooth swipe of white paste resting on the tips of the bristles.  So smooth and clear, like porcelain.  A wave of curiosity instigates the arm to move the toothbrush by the nose.  Inhale.  Zinging sensation, with surprising depth, transmitting through to the upper cheeks and lower forehead.  A coldness on the tip of the nostrils:  the sensation of freshness.


The right hand moves to open the tap.  The metal’s coldness prominent enough for attention to be drawn there: sharp on the palm, spreading and diluting up the arm.


Now water is streaming out, accompanied by a hissing.  Funny, I expected to be hearing a trickling sound instead, the sound of the water rolling down the sink.  It must be running down smoothly.  Where does this hissing sound come from?  It’s from inside the tap.  What kinetic relationship between liquid and metal generates it?


The brush is lowered into the sink to wet the paste and bristles.  A subtle alerness in the mouth.  Is it some kind of sympathetic reaction to the wetting of the brush.  A familiar association of what’s to come?


The brush moves in the mouth, straight to the lower right molars – habit.  Noticing a coarseness with the bristles, both the feeling and the sound.  The brushing movements too feel quite coarse, rough, unrefined.  Fast mechanical motions with an element of impatience.  A ‘get on with it’ action rather than an ‘endulge and enjoy’.  The pressure on the hand too is quite unrefined.  Now it’s softer, more smoothly spread out across all fingers.  Was it the observation that instigated the change?  Did interest and attention bring about a wiser touch?


The brushing moves around the mouth, tops of molars, then inner sides.  A noticeable difference when the brush touches the gums.  So what is the feeling when it’s touching the teeth?  Teeth don’t have touch sensory nerve endings.  Or do they?  Oh they do.  How funny.  How strange.  These bones have the same sensors as fingertips.


The tap has been opened more and the toothbrush is under the water.  When did that happen?  The outer sides and front teeth were brushed, the paste and water spat out, the tap was opened, and I have no recollection of anything.  All while I’ve been conjuring images of teeth and fingers and nerves and running a scientific anatomical contemplation.


Now the right hand is cupped and delivers water to the mouth.  Gurgling.  Quite a pleasant sensation.  Subtle but very pleasant indeed.  A slippery coolness circulating about.  A couple more gurgles.  The brush is placed back on the rack.  It’s goodbye.  See you in the morning.


Author: JD