Sometimes the lessons we learn in elementary school aren’t just about reading, spelling and arithmetic. I learned a lesson of another kind one morning when the school district’s dental hygienist visited my second-grade classroom. (This was a long time ago. There are dental hygienist schools, but I don’t know if there are still school dental hygienists.)

Anyway, she asked for a volunteer. I raised my hand and learned my first lesson — don’t volunteer. She asked me if I knew how to brush my teeth well. I thought I did. She gave me a new toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste and a cellophane packet containing a red tablet.

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