Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get Them Out! Get Them Out!

I like to think that I inherited many (some) fine qualities from my parents.

Unfortunately, I also inherited a propensity to problem gums. So, four times a year I have a date at the dentist's office for the turbo-cleaning/scaling routine. Each time the lovely hygenist, who bears no resemblence at all to Laurence Olivier's role in Marathon Man (The man applied dental torture to interrogate Dustin Hoffman for those who haven't seen the movie.) begins by collecting samples from different areas of my mouth. She smears them on a slide and peers at them under the microscope searching for gliders and spinning rods and spirochetes, oh my!

These are types of bacteria that can develop in your mouth and their absence, presence or degree thereof determines whether you're a-okay, at risk or at high risk. The highest risk involves amoebas. Just the thought grosses me out.

After she's examined the slide, she turns it around and points out the different types of bacteria. They look like different sizes of black spots or bars swimming across the screen. So, there they are, proof of your hygenic condition bouncing around on the slide like supercharged, microscopic bumper cars.

I wage a daily battle for good gum and tooth health. My weapons are a hydrofloss that blasts water and an antiseptic solution all over my mouth, between teeth, etc., stamping out bacteria before they multiply. I also use a sonic care toothbrush to add some oomph to the brushing routine.

Did you know that you're supposed to brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day? Most people only average 45 seconds each time. Don't they know they're risking their dental health, not to mention their mental well-being and their financial futures? (I'm not joking about that last part. My first car cost less than what I had to spend for gum surgery, root canals and crowns a few years ago. I once filled out a work leave request by saying, "I need time to attend a royal event because the last time so many crowns gathered in one place a princess got married."

But I digress.

Today while I was waiting for the hygenist to finish examining the slide, I had a couple of thoughts. First of all, no matter how valiantly I battle, there is absolutely nothing I can do to completely evict these bacterial trespassers. The best that I can hope for is that I will only have a low concentration of the least harmful. (That was the case today. Three cheers for me!)

My second thought concerned germaphobes. Seriously. How do germaphobic people cope with the existence of bacteria in their mouths? If you're like Howie Mandel who is so skeeved by germs that he won't shake hands with others, travels with his own sanitized towels and has to stay in a special mega-disinfected room how the hell do you not go absolutely screaming monkey bonkers at the thought of the countless bacteria living in your own mouth? Do you return time after time after time to the sink to rinse your mouth with some high-octane antiseptic mouthwash? WHAT do you do??

If anyone knows the answer, please tell me!

Once I started thinking about germaphobes and mouth bacteria, I couldn't stop worrying about their mental state. The mouth is not the only mine field in the human body. What about the stomach? What about the . . . lower, um . . . assets?

Do you just feel boobytrapped by your own physiology?

Here I was concerned about how much it costs to restore your gums and teeth. What about the psychiatric bills?


David Snape said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Snape said...

Well, I tried several times to leave you a long and meaningful post, but for some reason it keeps getting deleted.

I think you are on the right path with the hydrofloss .

Do you also have the pocket pal jet tips?

You should have your doctor and hygienist write down your pocket depths at each visit, it is the only objective way you will know if you are making real progress between office visits or not.

They should tell you what they are at ever single visit.

when you get to 3mm or below you are really doing well and you just have to maintain from that point forward.

Good luck, I think you can do it with the right knowledge and the right tools. That information may not always come from the sources you expect it too!

Mary Stella said...

They did the poke tests for pocket depth today. I'm maintaining at my usual level -- mostly 3s and 2s. A couple of 4s. I have two problem areas that never get that low but at least aren't getting worse and my bacteria levels were much improved. (Take that you evil spirochetes. I defeated you!)

Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

David Snape said...


If the 4s are on your back molars, there is speculation that may actually be normal because the tissue is a bit thicker back there.

Sounds like you are doing well. You could talk to your dentist throttling back on the treatment a little. It is up to you of course.

I take it you are getting regular cleanings four times per year by your post?