Coincidences and Habits

In 1994 or so, I took my kids to the park. I began chatting with another mom. She and her husband had just opened a dental practice, and my husband and I had just opened our printshop. Our kids were playing together. I haven’t seen her since.

Her kid is now my dentist.

Entirely impossible. Until I had someone help me with the math. (How I got so old is a topic for another day. When I have the wine out.)

He did not remember our paths crossing like this, but he did tell me I had lovely teeth. Only problem is that I brush too hard and it’s causing some gum recession. I’m right handed and when I come around that corner to attack my lower left teeth, I’m a little … um … aggressive. He advised I should hold my toothbrush with only two or three fingers instead of gripping it in my fist.

“Like playing a violin?”


Oh, and this reminds me. I have a doggie dentist appointment next week for Nala. I know for a fact her dentist will not compliment her teeth. Nine years of not brushing has, I fear, caused some problems for her. In my defense, I tried cleaning her teeth when we got her four years ago, but neither one of us liked it. Perhaps I was too aggressive with her, too. Or perhaps the bacon-flavored toothpaste was unappealing. (Ya think??) Now I’m a bit worried because they’ll put her under with anesthesia. They’ve assured me she’s healthy enough to handle it, but still…


Nala1     Nala2


I’m sure the doggie dentist will fix up Nala, but who’s going to help me?? I’ve been trying for the last week to completely change how I brush my teeth. It’s HARD! I’m overly-conscious of every movement I make while attempting to polish up my pearly whites. Sometimes so conscious that I don’t think I’m doing much of anything. Don’t scrub … am I foamy enough? … do I brush longer since I’m not scrubbing as hard? … am I getting everywhere? Gah.

I’ve been trying to dig deep into the recesses of my memory to see if I’ve successfully changed any other habits so drastically. I came up with a couple, although none that I’ve been doing for over 50 years.

I’ve changed how I outline and write books, for one thing. But that was so incremental, simply tweaking my process by trial and error from book to book.

I’ve changed my diet. But again, so incrementally it’s hardly noticeable.

And that’s all I came up with.

Not one habit in my life has been turned so immediately upside down as changing the way I brush my teeth.

So, I’m asking you. Have you had to abruptly change a long-standing habit? How did you do it? How long did it take to embrace the change? Will you now hold your toothbrush with only two fingers and commisserate with me? Should I send you Nala’s leftover bacon-flavored toothpaste?


Author: Becky Clark

I write mysteries with humor and spend my free time attempting to rid my clothing of dog hair. My book FICTION CAN BE MURDER, the first in the Mystery Writer's Mystery series, was out April 2018, and the next one, FOUL PLAY ON WORDS will be out April 2019.

12 thoughts on “Coincidences and Habits”

  1. Too funny!

    I’m not sure I ever changed a habit “cold turkey.” Like you, it’s always been a very incremental change. For example: I used to use several teaspoons of sugar in my tea. Then I cut back to one teaspoon per cup, then switched to agave nectar, now I drink it black.

    Oh, and years ago my dentist told me the same thing about my brushing. After trying to be gentler, I finally broke down and got an electric toothbrush that stops spinning when the pressure is too hard. Habit broken.


  2. I quit smoking when I was 35. It took several attempts before I was able to quit entirely, and I’m so glad I did! First try, barely made it through a day. Next try, two days. Third try, about two days again. But on the fourth try, it stuck. I don’t think there was gum or any other way to do it than cold turkey back then. In cases like this, I think my tendency to being stubborn is a good thing.
    As for brushing my teeth, I switched to the very inexpensive Colgate electric brush. Next visit to the dentist will tell whether it’s working better or not. Good luck with your attempt to change such a long-time habit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No joke, I cracked a filling a few days ago and keep forgetting to make a dentist appointment, so thanks for this post!

    My problem isn’t brushing too hard, it’s remembering to floss every day, but I’m getting better at it.

    P.S. Your Nala is adorable ❤


    1. Thanks…Nala is indeed the photogenic one in the family!

      Yikes! Wouldn’t the pain of a cracked filling remind you to make an appointment?? Never had one, but that sounds bad. And good news on the flossing front. Both my new dentist and my old one told me I don’t have to floss. Instead, they recommend those teeny tiny brushes, they look like mini bottle brushes. Just scrub them between your teeth. So much easier than flossing!


  4. Ah, Becky, my dentist told me the same thing. Unfortunately, I have failed at changing it so I’m really rooting for you.

    I quit smoking in 1989, we’ll, not really. You see, I realized on that night in December that if I lit that cigarette, it would be the first one of the day. I decided to see how long I could go between cigarettes. Still haven’t lit up. But I tell people I’m between smokes!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My dentist is on that “don’t brush so hard” team as well. She also wants me to brush down only, not up and down.
    I never smoked, but husband did, and even though he quit many many years ago, he says that sometimes he still has a craving for a cigarette.


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