There are certain things in life that most of us look forward to, such as the last school bell of the day, clocking out of work on a Friday evening or jetting off on holiday.

The mere thought of any of the aforementioned gets the feel-good vibes flowing and helps us get through the tedium that everyday life occasionally entails.

On the flipside of the coin, there are those essential trips, commitments and chores that do anything but send spirits soaring.

It might be grocery shopping for some, getting the car serviced for others or maybe having to sit through the omnibus edition of a badly acted soap opera. We all have our crosses to bear.

Historically, men haven’t paid the same attention to their personal health as women, though it’s fair to say that the modern Irish male is more health conscious than his predecessors.

Responsible journalism has certainly helped in this respect; though ratings-obsessed shows that have people saving their stool samples for inspection hardly rank as public service broadcasting.

One of the more effective ad campaigns in recent years references how good most of us fellows are when it comes to getting the oil and filter changed in our cars.

We know that if we don’t get these essential jobs done every few thousand kilometres, our much treasured jalopy could soon have smoke billowing from under the bonnet.

The main point the ad made was that if we men paid as much attention to our own internals as we do to those of our motors, the chances are we’d all be healthier and happier.

Of course, bringing about that change in mindset involves undoing the habits of a lifetime for many men, and not just among the middle-aged and older.

It means having an apple instead of a Big Mac. It means cycling to work as opposed to driving. It means having a pint of water and leaving the beer in the fridge.

That’s why going to the doctor and the dentist every six months is something us men ought to do and should do without gentle or not so gentle persuasion.

After all, echoing the spirit of another advertising campaign, prevention is better than cure.

A recent trip to the dentist proved the inspiration behind this week’s offering. I’d let a little too much time pass between my latest and previous visit, but thankfully I didn’t leave the dental surgery with a set of teeth similar to Shane McGowan’s.

The softly-spoken dentist offered me a pair of sunglasses as he cranked his light into position while I got cosy on the Star-Trek like seating mechanism. I was so comfortable I felt in danger of nodding off into some plaque-free stream of consciousness.

Like many a codger before me, I’d had a decent swirl of water before I made for my appointment, to avoid any lunchtime remnants resurfacing.

For some reason, Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’ came to mind, as I recalled that the bearded Mr Twit occasionally found part of his breakfast struck on his cheek hours after his dawn chow.

I wish I could put this down to anaesthetic, but the procedure I was in for that day didn’t require such a numbing of the senses.

That I should also be thinking about Mr Twit’s glass eye falling into his beer while the dentist rooted around my roots would probably have had Mr Freud requesting my file.

As I lay there, with the dentist busily restoring my pearlies to Guy Smiley-like whiteness, the many other days spent in similar chairs passed through the mind.

To be honest, going to the dentist in my school days usually involved hours out of the classroom, which even a self-confessed swot like me never objected to, though there were a few drawbacks.

Wearing braces, as I did for six years, meant spending an abundance of time in waiting rooms, spitting out lots of blue and red ‘dental juice’ and often heading home with numb gums. And don’t remind me of the gagging-enduced hell which dental impressions provided.

But the time spent in the dentist’s chair has given me some insight into the great work that dentists do day in, day out.

The gobs they peer into come in all shapes and conditions – some gleaming rows of enamel, others potch marked with fillings and falsies. Equal opportunity is the name of their game.

Lathering up the gnashers may not rank with a sunset stroll on some distant beach, but consider the following.

Without that regular visit to the dentist, who ensures that your million dollar smile remains in seven figures, that stroll on foreign shores might be a hell of a lot lonelier.

So if you do have any lifetime habits, make sure they’re good ones!

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