She told me to open my mouth, she started the exam, and, she was in there for about 30 seconds,. Suddenly, she started crying (this is a dental story there might be some exaggeration for point). My dental hygienist said that my teeth were not very happy; in fact they were down right sad. I hadn’t been to the dentist for my recommended twice-yearly cleaning and I’m not the best flosser – in that I don’t really floss. The good news is that I don’t have periodontal disease, the bad news is if I don’t take care of my teeth now, I will.
I brush my teeth every day and use mouthwash with fluoride and, I don’t eat sweet stuff, so why can’t I just come in every five years and clean my teeth? After all, that’s what I have done for the past forty years. She looked at me and said, “Listen, I have a really full schedule, I’m booked out for months, and I can’t force you to take care of your teeth. Other people get it, you don’t yet, call me when you do.”
And that was the last time I saw my dental hygienist. Not because I haven’t “gotten it” yet. I understood almost immediately, cleaning your teeth doesn’t just make them whiter; it actually keeps your gums healthy and free from gingivitis and periodontal disease. I haven’t seen my hygienist since then because she really was booked for months and I just couldn’t get in.
The Cleaning of the Teeth (Part II)
I finally made it in to see my hygienist and my gums are so much happier now. Of course it takes a bit of work on my part, learning to floss after 40 years of not flossing is like learning a new language. I’d rather go to the dentist once a month for a monthly cleaning but personal responsibility is important. For now I will continue to keep my gums happy and therefore healthy by flossing and brushing every day. And, I will resign myself to the recommended twice-a-year cleaning. I hope my little story has impressed upon you the importance of regular cleanings. If I can do it after forty years of not doing it, then anyone can.*
*Two visits annually for a cleaning is normal. If you have periodontal disease, it will likely be recommended you visit your dentist and hygienist 3 to 4 times per year until the condition of your gums improve.
Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Dental floss (whole)