You can’t fool your dentist

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The Silver Life - You can't fool your dentist

Do you stretch the truth about your oral hygiene?

I just had my semi-annual dental appointment and skated out relatively unscathed this time.  I try to take good care of my teeth, as I am down to my last set and dread the alternatives available.

Because I live in a rural area of the Appalachians, and we have a large free dental clinic to treat those unable to pay, I wondered what things dentists could tell about how we really take care of our teeth versus what we tell our dentist. I asked my dentist about that and he laughed good-naturedly and said that a great number of his patients “stretch the truth” about their oral hygiene, but it is pretty evident to him and his colleagues what the truth is.

Probably the most common lie up here and maybe elsewhere is “I rarely, if ever drink colas”.  Of course most of us have had demonstrations of what a can of coke does to a penny or something else and we can extrapolate that demonstration to what it does to our teeth.  The dentist can tell by how much the enamel is eaten away, that you are drinking sodas of one sort or another regularly.

And, no, the sugar-free and other substitutes are no help either. The same is true for those that maintain that they don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. First off, I imagine that the odor from the mouth and clothes would give anyone away immediately, let alone the staining of teeth.

Most, if not all, dentists or their hygienist, floss your teeth for you as part of the cleaning and routine examination. They can tell immediately if you floss and brush regularly no matter what you claim. Those who don’t floss, or do it incorrectly, have inflammation of the gums, often accompanied by bleeding when they do get flossed. Of course, over time this leads to a painful treatment for the damaged gums and eventually the loss of those teeth.

Unless you are unfortunately cursed with a phobia about your dental visit (called odontophobia or dentophobia by psychologists who have nothing better to do than make up big names for things we don’t need big names for), you already probably know that such things as neglecting to floss at least once a day, to cut way back on the ingestion of sodas (and rinsing your mouth out after you do have one), to stop smoking (for a lot of good reasons) can cause us quite a bit of trouble, pain and expense in the long run.

When we ignore these routine habits, we make our visits to the dentists more painful or less frequent, or both.  Taking the precautions we probably have known since childhood, will go a long way toward making sure that you keep your teeth and have less reason to stretch the truth on your dental visits every six months.

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