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


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!


  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 It is very similar to weight watchers, but instead of counting points you just count calories. I’ll be back!

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

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