The Tooth Fairy
Jude Wanniski
September 7, 2000


To: Website fans, browsers, friends
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Teeth

We are all growing older and as our medical scientists find more and better ways to keep us alive, we should consider our teeth. I’m a decade ahead of you baby boomers out there, having arrived on June 17, 1936, so I can give you a tip about taking care of your teeth that nobody told me about ten years ago. I thought it up myself. I had to, because Dr. Herman Waldman of Morristown, N.J., who has been peering into my mouth for 28 years, told me ten years ago that my teeth were going to give me problems, and I might not have them much longer unless I took special care of them. Well, the good news is that in the intervening years, my teeth actually have improved, according to Doc Waldman. Yes, I see him every three months, which I do because I can afford to do it. I’m not going to suggest you follow that regimen unless you have the money, knowing many of you can’t afford more than once a year. My big discovery is not expensive at all. It is about mouthwash.

Until Doc Waldman threw a scare into me a decade ago, I did brush my teeth twice a day, and I always had a bottle of mouthwash at hand in the bathroom for a quick swish -- when I remembered it. It may seem like a little thing to you, but I decided to put the mouthwash -- a plaque remover, usually Listermint -- inside the bathtub, where I showered every morning. I reasoned that if I took a swig when I got into the shower, I could keep it swishing for more than a minute or two, instead of the five seconds at the sink. When I was a boy, I remember being impressed with a movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Clifton Webb, one of the earlier “efficiency experts,” who had a wife and 12 children in the early part of the century. He taught himself, and his children too, how to button their shirts and blouses in record time, advising them that since they would be buttoning shirts all their lives, the faster they could accomplish this mundane task, the more time they would have for useful endeavors.

So it is that I figured out how to make the most use of the time I spent in the shower by swishing around the anti-plaque mouthwash while I soaped and rinsed the rest of me. Now this is a “Memo on the Margin,” which means I offer up ideas every day on matters where change may be taking place. I had six other things to write about today, but this idea pushed itself to the top of the list, after I visited Doc Waldman for my quarterly, and he expressed amazement about how good my teeth looked. I figured if I could get the word out to you boomers, you could start now, and someday 30 years from now, think back and remember how you learned you could be 80 or 90 years old and still have your choppers.

PS.... Tell a friend. And if YOU have an idea that you think is pretty neat on how to make life easier, tell us about it. If it seems neat and practical, I’ll put it on the margin.