I have always been a sort of lackadaisical dental hygienist. I’ll brush once a night and floss once in a blue moon, and as I have gotten older I have had a few cavities. However, on a recent trip to the dentist, my whole perspective on dental maintenance changed.
I was going in for a cleaning and oral exam. As I sat in the chair and the dentist examined my mouth, he started to do something I had never had done before. He started using some sort of tool to measure where my gums were along my teeth. I didn’t know what he was doing at first. All I could hear was him counting off, “3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 3, 2, 3…” as he poked the gums next to each one of my teeth.
As the dentist poked and prodded around in my mouth, I started to worry. Was there something wrong with my gums? I work in an office that centers around dental plans–so I know a little about what it means when a dentist starts poking around below your actual teeth: gum disease. The word rang in my mind like a gong between the ears.
When the dentist finally finished his measurements, I’m sure he saw the look on my face. “Now, don’t panic,” he said, and then he went on to explain that I had formed some pockets below the standard measurement (3mm) for healthy gums. He also told me I would have to be much more diligent in my daily cleaning routine. I needed to brush, floss and use Listerine’s Total Care mouthwash to get my gums back up to par. If I didn’t, we’d have to explore periodontal treatment, which I knew equaled money, pain and time I couldn’t afford.
After he examined my gums, the dentist told me in one particular area, where a big pocket had formed in my gums, there was a hole in my tooth. “You may need a root canal,” he said, and I quivered. This was the most tragic dentist visit I had ever had! Gum disease and now a root canal? How could it be?
Laziness. I knew it pure and simple. The dentist said he would attempt to fill the hole (like a cavity) and would only do the root canal if the root was exposed after he drilled into the tooth. Thankfully, once he got in there, my tooth only required a fairly large filling. Whew…that was close.
That dentist appointment was four weeks ago. Since then I’ve brushed, flossed and used the mouthwash every night except one where I skipped the mouthwash. I have never been more diligent about taking care of my teeth and realized that I am thankful for many things through this experience.
I’m thankful for a dentist I can trust to only do the work he has to and not do any unnecessary procedures. I’m thankful for a second chance to be more diligent about taking care of my teeth, and I’m really thankful for my Careington Dental Plan. On this round of dental work, I saved over $300. What a relief!
If you’ve been lazy about taking care of your teeth, let me encourage you to reconsider your dental health and hygiene. Don’t be a victim when gums attack!