Friday, September 7, 2012


So I learned a lot about dentistry over the last week and a half. I had to go for my annual cleaning and you know the part (my least favorite part I might add) where they go around your whole mouth and jab you in the gums right between all of your teeth? Apparently its not JUST b/c they're sadists. There is actually a point this is activity. Who knew right?

So apparently the point of this torture is to check the depth of your "periodontal pockets" (aka the little gaps in ur gums btwn your teeth). B/c your little pockets there should only be 1-2 mm deep. If they are 3mm deep or more it means you've got some bacteria growing in there, which is bad b/c the bacteria like to set up shop, stretch out and make some leg room and basically push your gum away from your tooth. It will even go so far as to pop off all the little ligaments that hold your gums to your teeth to keep your teeth in place.

If your pockets are 5mm deep or more you get referred to a periodontist who will do mean, mean things to you in the name of trying to keep your teeth IN your mouth. B/c not only will that bacteria pop all those ligaments right off, if they get deep enough, they'll then erode the bone in your jaw holding your tooth in place. It will eventually get loose and fall the frick out.

Oh and get this - this whole terrifying business - doesn't hurt at all. It doesn't hurt right up until your teeth start poppin out of your head like some sort of terrifying hill-billy fashion statement.

And it gets even better - deeper than 5mm and you can't get those clean all by yourself at home. So THAT means you have to go back to the periodontist every couple months to have them clean it for you until you heal back up from the bottom. FUNNNNN. (And what they do is so mean they have to numb your mouth up first and often only do one half of your mouth at a time....)

So get this - this bacteria can set up shop inside of 24 hours. The bastages can make hard plaques that have to be scraped off by a dentist in just over 24 hours. Oh and those plaques make it easier for them to stick to the tooth, so they breed better and faster than they would have otherwise.

Good news is that apparently its anaerobic bacteria (doesn't need oxygen to survive and oxygen is actually toxic to it), so actually half the point of flossing is just to get oxygen down below the gumline to kill those little mud suckers.

So I had made the switch from flossing less frequently w/ actual floss to flossing more frequently but w/ those little floss pick things b/c they're so convenient right? Well apparently they're not as effective as the actual floss b/c you can't wrap it AROUND the tooth like you're supposed to. Whiners. Which is why my pockets were more like 3-4s. And if I get any worse it will not be well with me. So guess who is switching back to regular floss and just found ALLLLLLL new motivation to do so DAILY no matter HOW tired I am. (Btw there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to floss and if you're not 100% sure that you know what you're doing - aka you haven't had a dental professional approve how you're doing it - then please be careful. If you jam the floss down there and saw you can actually do more harm than good).

Also I'm grateful for a very helpful hygienist who took the time to explain what they frick they meant when they say, "Oh you're all ones and twos, so you're good." My response: *smile, nod, pretend to have a clue*. Where as in this most recent visit "Well you're more like 3s and 4s this time so you really need to watch it." Me: "Say wha?" And she very nicely took the time to explain to me (with a very helpful diagram I might add) what that meant and why. And I'm like "Oooooohhhhhh. But my mouth doesn't hurt at all." Her: "Nope it won't. At least not until you're bleeding out the mouth every time you brush your teeth." Me: "Ewwwww...."

Ya know I had this dentist when I was a teenager tell me "How ever many teeth you want to keep thats how many you should floss. If you want 1 tooth, then floss just the 1 tooth. If you want all of them then you have to floss all of them." Well he was kind of a butthead so I mostly blew him off. I just found my cleanings went better (with less of the painful gouging) if I flossed on a semi regular basis so I did it, mostly. Well now that I'm 30 I'm finding all new motivation to take GOOOOOD good care of my mouth.

Who knows, I might even start bonding w/ Listerine... Not sure I'm that macho tho...

(Note: The hygienist didn't go quite this fully in depth with me. She just said enough to make me really curious so I went home and me and the google bonded and wikipedia came a long for the ride and we learned a bunch of fascinating crap about teeth.)

1 comment:

  1. Love it!! brings back memories of suctioning very very bloody mouths with periodontal disease! Don't let yours get that way even though it's fun for the dental assistant! Love your "patients" point of view though! When "perio" was on the schedule by the patients name I just set up the numbing shots and ultrasonic cleaner and sucked up tons of blood and chunks of plaque! awesome!