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Heymatt:

I haven't been to the dentist in a while and am due for a cleaning. Over the weekend I got sick and puked a few times. I swear the stomach acid in the vomit cleaned the plaque right off my teeth and they now appear whiter. Can I save myself from the terror of a visit to the dentist by puking now and then?

-- PW, the net

We've corraled the elves and taken them to see the staff tooth jockey, Dr. J, DDS. They look cute lined up in their little matching drool bibs. Grandma uses the opportunity to sit in the waiting room and tear interesting articles out of the magazines.

So, Dr. J, you won�t believe--

"Open wide."

Hae Gok, khaaarg ik igglk gggheeeg?

"Yeah, sure. What's your question?"

Geh, ogay. Ihyoo ghro uk ugick keeh uhrrr keeekh? I geeg, ik u'g geeye, geeye khick.

"What? What kind of question is that? You do this for a living?

Uhhh�uh-hug.

"I think this information will be lost on anybody who would ask a question like that. But I'm a professional, so yes, it's possible that this person noticed a difference. But I can't see that vomiting would be more fun than getting a good professional cleaning.

Yheeyee? Ikk'uh guhk? Hogy kchhhik!

"See, stomach acid-- hydrochloric acid-- is pretty powerful stuff. It could have stripped enough of the fuzz and plaque off the teeth to make them feel cleaner. Bile might have lightened some of the dark acid staining that develops on the plaque and calculus. Spit, please."

Ptooey! So throwing up is jus--

"Open."

--gaaack!

"Now I'm not saying that. We dentists smile knowingly under our masks when a patient says it's been 'a while' since they've been in. Translated, that means anywhere from one to three years. Six cleanings. So there was probably a pretty good layer of plaque to begin with. I'm not sure a day's worth of barfing is going to do the trick. But develop a good case of bulimia and the hydrochloric acid will eventually eat away your tooth enamel, starting with the backs of your incisors. Kind of like flossing with a belt sander."

Ickghee? Gack! Uhh--

"But like I always say, you don�t have to floss all your teeth, only the ones you want to keep."

Hokgaae, Gok. Khagks.

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