Not going to class

You probably don’t know a single person who doesn’t brush her teeth every day.

The reason you brush your teeth every day has little to do with cavities, or tooth decay, or gum disease. The reason you brush your teeth every day is because everyone else does it too.

Teeth brushing is a cultural imperative: “People like us do things like this.”

First, mom or dad put you in front of the sink with a toothbrush, held your little wrist, and taught you how to push the paste around your mouth. You were taught not to swallow the paste, but to spit it out. You did this twice-a-day, every day, until you could do it yourself.

By the time you got to the dentist you didn’t need to be taught how to brush your teeth. The cultural imperative was already in place: “People like us do things like this.”

Last year, a coach at Fredonia told me a story about a student trying out for her team. This tryout player told the captain of the team that she was skipping class. “You can’t skip class,” said the captain. She skipped anyway.

Word got back to the coach. She got cut.

People like us do things like this.

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