The Dentist, The Diet, The Discussion

Dental visits are not at the top of my self-care list, but I do go every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning. How big of a risk can it be since I waited to have my first cavity until 2 years ago at age 53? (Growing up in Texas does have its benefits – natural water fluoridation –  although benefits are growing fewer by the second.) I actually look forward to visiting with my dentist as his staff is wonderful, and he and I have a quasi-professional relationship and usually banter about medical issues.

This visit had a component of a NSV because when he came in to check for cavities using a laser fluorescence device (higher diagnostic accuracy than x-rays), my favorite dentist had no clue who I was. He is a professional colleague (of sorts) who has known me for almost 5 years – no clue, nada, zilch. He started asking about my “business” and the economy. At first I was confused, then realized that after 80 pounds gone, I might not recognize me either.

The second part of the visit was not so funny – he found a teeny cavity on one of my wisdom teeth (yep, I still have every one of my teeth) and asked me to return the next day to have it filled. When I did he was his usual chatty self asking about my sweetie and talking about the woes of medicine and public health as it relates to dentistry. I asked if my recent outbreak of cavities (2 in 2 years over my life time 😉 ) meant that I was on a downhill course in regard to my teeth, or if being postmenopausal was a portent for my dental health. Suddenly it occurred to me that my change in eating, er, diet, could be contributing. He reminded me that caries are a disease from bacteria and that if I had been under stress (umm, yep) eating a lot of sugary substances that bacteria love (why aren’t bacteria fat?), drinking sports & diet sodas, not brushing, etc. those could be contributing factors. Sugar, sports and diet drinks, dental hygiene – not problems. When I asked him more detail about diet he did say that an acidic diet (the typical American diet is horrid) can wear down enamel. Well, I do drink coffee and tea regularly now, eat a lot of greek yogurt, and we have a salad with homemade balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing every night. So here is my take home message to share from my wise dentist. After eating – especially after eating or drinking acidic foods – drink a lot of water to cleanse your mouth before brushing, otherwise you just spread the acid all over your teeth! Another reason to drink a reasonable amount of water. Also, consider using a straw to drink beverages – even coffee. Who knew? (Medical doctors do not know crap about teeth other than treat mouth infections with certain antibiotics, give pain meds, and get patients to a DDS as soon as possible.)

Hopefully when I next see my favorite dentist, I will be much closer to goal and cavity free as usual. And, it’s OK if he doesn’t recognize me.

Addendum: I am not implying that coffee is bad for your teeth. In fact, coffee without additives might prevent adherence to teeth of one of the major bacteria that causes cavities.

dental cartoon

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12 thoughts on “The Dentist, The Diet, The Discussion

  1. Congrats on that huge NSV!! I envy your teeth; I have many crowns. Maybe I never brushed as a kid? I had heard the sucking with a straw thing but that raises the whole issue of the very ugly vertical lines forming above my lip!

    • Sigh, those vertical lines are just gonna happen… Estrogen – can’t live with it, can’t live without it 😉

  2. Interesting & helpful. I’ll have to start drinking more water. Maybe that explains the number of cavities that I had, as a child & the problems I experience now.

    Stopping by from The Lady Bloggers Society to visit & say hi!

  3. I am a lifelong iiced tea drinker and my dentist told me years ago to use a straw to help with the staining. I have several of the Copco cups (from BB&B) which look like the iced tea containers they use at Starbucks, but are reusable. I love them, and love being “green” while keeping my teeth whiter. I am happy to hear there are other benefits although my mouth is full of fillings and crowns, I have a few virgin teeth left!

  4. This was very interesting! I have Invisalign invisible braces so I can only drink water when I have them in and I have to brush and floss every time I eat before I put them back in so I don’t think my teeth have ever been so well take care of!

    I love that your dentist didn’t even know who you were! Bravo on a great NSV!

  5. I loved that you dentist was just chatting away, getting to know this “new” patient! ha ha ha… that must have felt gooood!

    I always find tips on teeth interesting. I try so hard to take care of mine, but battle crummy genetics. But I still have 16 of the originals left, and am determined not to lose any more. My cavity problems suddenly disappeared when I stopped eating sugar in March of 2009!! Gee… whodathunkit. 😉

    One thing I discovered, you might already know: xylitol. I use it moderately along with stevia as a sweetener. It actually HELPS keep teeth cavity free. Something about the bacteria not being able to proliferate in it’s presence… or something like that. 🙂

    “Why aren’t bacteria fat”…. ROFL!

    Loretta
    =^..^=

  6. I’ve been drinking a lot of ice tea this summer… trying to give up the diet coke habit. I’ll have to start thinking about staining! Oh, and I have a great dentist, but I still HATE going!

  7. I almost always drink everything from a straw…but I never even thought about the acid in vinegar causing problems. I’m a lot like you – we eat salads almost every day/night and they ALWAYS have a vinegarette on them. Food for thought!

    Kind of cool that he didn’t initially recognize you due to your weight loss! 🙂

  8. Ha! I love the comic at the end! So true!

    I really enjoy going to the dentist. I don’t know why I held off for so many years but just a couple of months ago I had my wisdom teeth removed and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. Sure my mouth hurt quite a bit when it was over, and I was whiny, but the actual experience of having my dentist put her weight into prying out my broken shattered teeth without cracking them further was…. fun.

  9. I am visiting from the Lady Bloggers Tea Party. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your journey to a healthier you. I enjoyed reading some of your posts. A great free resource for weight loss and maintenance is http://www.sparkpeople.com. It is very similar to weight watchers, but instead of counting points you just count calories. I’ll be back!

    • I use Livestrong.com for monitoring nutrition and calories. WW online or in person just doesn’t suit me.

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