Yesterday’s post on Long Distance Relationships got you guys talking (thanks for all the awesome love stories and encouragement!), but I’m guessing today’s on going to the dentist won’t get so much love.
I went to the dentist for the first time in almost two years yesterday.
I’ll give you an overview of this whole post right away: don’t wait that long.
You’re supposed to go to the dentist every six months. However my company in Dallas didn’t provide dental insurance, so I didn’t. That’s not an excuse, by the way. I should have gone even without the insurance.
I’m pretty good about my dental health, I think. I brush multiple times every day, and I do floss, but I could be better about it. I got myself one of those Reach things so it would be easier to, and that definitely helps. Then in Miami my friend Mike told me about this healthy habit project he’s working on, and the first part is getting people to floss every day. Just hearing about it has made me a regular flosser.
Anyway, even though I was doing my best, my gums had started to bleed A LOT. It had been happening for a few months. Sometimes when I brushed, but almost every time I flossed. It was terrible! I was certain I had gum disease.
So first order of business when I got home to St. Louis (and on different insurance) was make a dentist appointment. I went today and when they asked how things were, and I flat out told them I hadn’t been to the dentist in a while and I thought I had gum disease. (It’s ALWAYS better to tell your health professionals the full truth, even if it’s not so great.)
Well, the dental hygienist got to work and said I had TONS of tartar build up. Tartar is plaque (germs) that hardens on teeth, just above the gum line or in between teeth gaps to form a brown solid. Plaque is invisible, but tartar absorbs stains and so can usually be seen. (source) YUM. She said I likely didn’t have gum disease, but that having all that tartar can make your gums bleed.
I asked tons of questions because I’m that patient. She said that even though our bodies produce tartar, it is still seen as an outside invader and so it gets irritated and bleeds.
She said that yes, flossing and brushing well help, but that the best way to prevent plaque from building up is to see the dentist regularly. Once it hardens into tartar, only the dentist can remove it.
She also said I was a great patient:) I guess she liked the questions!
So I got my gums taken care of and my teeth cleaned, but I do have to get one of my fillings touched up. I have a few fillings, and had tons when I was little, so I’m just glad it’s not a whole new one. I have naturally “ridge-y” teeth that collect little bits of food and things, so I got cavities a lot easier. I also may have made that up. I have no idea. I just know I’ve been telling people it for a while and I must have heard it somewhere.
So, the moral of the story is: brush and floss well, and go to the dentist regularly.
More reason to take care of your dental hygiene? Not doing so can lead to lots of other health problems including:
- Endocarditis. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).
- Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to chronic inflammation from periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease.
- Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control.
- HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
I apologize for having you read about dental hygeine (if you actually kept reading ) If you made it this far, take another 5 minutes and go floss!
- Do you floss?
ps: I just tried for 15 minutes to get the links to work on this post, but when I save the post they go away mysteriously. I don’t understand.