The Cleaning of the Teeth

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The Cleaning of the Teeth (Part I)

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)

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