Posted on 3/16/2016 by Dr. Keith Grote
|1: You don't need your teeth.
2: You get one set of adult teeth that can last a lifetime.
3: There are three main causes of tooth loss:
4: Cavities and gum disease are both transmissible diseases caused by bacteria.
5: Brush before you eat, not after. It's more effective and less harmful.
6: Everyone knows they are "supposed to floss", yet most people do not.
7: Everybody grinds their teeth while they sleep-some more than others. Most people have no idea that they do.
8: You should like your dentist, or at least not dread going. You need to feel heard and understood by him or her. Clear communication and understanding is the key to getting what you need and want.
9: A cooperative relationship with all of your dental care providers is essential to high quality care and the healthiest possible mouth and teeth.
Explanations of the above points:
1: You don't need your teeth. You can live without them. There are significant problems with living without teeth, but you can survive. Your brain, your internal organs, and a few other things are required to just survive, to be alive.
Healthy teeth and a healthy mouth are essential to a good quality of life. A fully functional dentition allows you to eat a wide variety of foods that provide essential nutrition for a healthy body. Eating a variety of natural, fresh (raw or cooked) foods is the best way to get essential nutrients to keep you healthy. A really good blender and a sharp knife can cut, mash, and grind your food so that you can swallow it and digest it properly. But it's not nearly as efficient and definitely not as enjoyable.
Smiling is essential to happiness. The mere act of smiling makes a person feel more joy and happiness. If you are embarrassed about the appearance of your smile for whatever reason (chipped, worn, stained, out of alignment, etc) you won't smile as much. And that would be sad. With modern, minimally invasive dental treatment, you can have a smile that lights up a room.
2: You get one set of adult teeth that can last a lifetime. They arrive between the ages of 6 and 12 and they can last 100 years! With a little effort-for some, much more for others. The most critical function of any dental provider is to help you understand how to prevent problems. Any dental care professional should help with home care instructions, recommended frequency of checkups and professional cleanings, and any additional steps for you to take to protect that precious set of teeth that you have been blessed with..
3: Everyone knows they need to floss, yet most don't (approximately 20% of an adult population flosses daily, the necessary frequency to prevent damage from bacteria between the teeth). The only way to develop the habit is to get some specific training and understanding. With that, I guarantee you can become a flosser. Yes, you. The trick is to floss well enough and for long enough that you can feel a difference. Then you floss because it feels good, or "right", and not because you were told it was good for you. Think of starting an exercise program or any other major lifestyle change. Initially, it is difficult to make a new habit or routine work, but when the health benefits occur, and you feel better, you can't imagine stopping. Same with flossing: if you floss properly for 30 days, when you skip a day, it won't "feel right". Then you floss because it feels good, not because you have been told it was "good for you".
4: Cavities and gum disease are both transmissible diseases caused by bacteria. Think: infection of the teeth and gums that is allowed to occur in front of your eyes. Your mouth is dark, warm, and moist. It is an ideal place for bacteria to grow. If you shower and wash the outside of your body every day, doesn't it make sense that the mouth should get the more attention? The truth is that most people give less attention to their mouth care.
5: Brush before you eat, not after. Most of us have heard the mantra "Brush after every meal". With an understanding of the biology of the mouth and oral bacteria, it makes sense to brush before. Food (mainly processed carbohydrates) does not cause cavities. Plaque bacteria (individual bacteria organized into colonies after 24 hours undisturbed on the teeth) causes cavities and gum disease when carbohydrates are metabolized by the bacteria. Remove the bacteria, and you could swish with a sugar solution and theoretically wouldn't cause any harm. With bacteria on the teeth and carbohydrates added, you can actually damage the teeth by brushing after eating, when acid levels are at their highest.
6: Only about 20% of people floss regularly. If you have ever missed a day of brushing, and started to get that odd feeling on your teeth of "fuzzy sweaters", it is unbearable. Well, most people have never flossed enough that they get the same sensation in the flossing areas. We know that if you floss every day for 3-4 weeks, your gums become optimally healthy. Then, when you forget and miss a day (or two!) of flossing, you get the same sensation of "fuzzy sweaters" between the teeth. Then, you feel the need to floss because it feels good. Not because you were told it is good for you.
7: Everybody grinds their teeth while they sleep. Most people are not aware they do it, and furthermore believe that they don't do it at all. Some grind their teeth during the day. Many people do it to a degree that they will cause damage to their teeth. Most people would benefit to some degree from wearing a nightguard. Most people don't want to wear a nightguard, and think they can't tolerate one. Most people can tolerate one, and many have noticed an improvement in jaw tension and comfort when wearing one. Some even report sleeping better, and can't imagine living without one (even those who were most skeptical to begin with).
8: Many people say "I hate the dentist". I think what they mean is that they dislike sitting in the dental chair having their teeth worked on. Well, who really likes having someone poke around their mouth while they lie upside down with little ability to swallow, unpleasant tastes, harsh noises, and the sound of the drill? Not many. But you need to have a cooperative relationship with your dentist in order to feel comfortable discussing what it takes to have the minimal amount of dentistry done while still having your teeth be as healthy as possible. And hating is not the way to get there. So, it makes sense to develop your relationship with your dentist. Or, find another. There are compassionate, caring communicators who can provide high quality dental care and ensure a lifetime of optimal oral health.
9: Dialogue is the most crucial to a positive therapeutic relationship. You need to feel comfortable talking about all the important things for you regarding your dental and oral health. That takes effort on both patient and doctor to make sure clear communication is occurring and there is a safe place to discuss all topics, even uncomfortable ones.