A Teeth-Grinding Generalization

, , , , , | Healthy | August 27, 2018

(I haven’t been to the dentist for several years, but an old family friend — who cleaned my teeth when I was a child — has recently moved to the area, so I go to her for a cleaning. The following takes place with her hands and tools inside my mouth, so I can’t spit.)

Hygienist: “You really need to brush your rear teeth better. I know you can, because they’re clean right now. But your lazy brushing has caused all sorts of problems back here. And you really need to lay off the soda. Really, sugar in general. And high-acid foods and drinks. Soda is pretty much the worst, though. And greasy food isn’t much better! You clearly eat too much fast food, and it’s not good for you. Your back teeth are just falling apart because of all that junk food!”

(Her tirade continues for more than ten minutes. She lectures me like I’m still a child despite that I’m in my mid-20s, before she finally removes her hands so I can pause to rinse and spit. She immediately reaches to start again, but I hold up a hand.)

Me: “We need to get something straight. I don’t eat high-acid foods, or greasy foods. I can’t afford to eat out, even cheap fast food. And I have soda maybe once a month. And while I don’t claim to be perfect, and do occasionally forget to brush before bed when I’m exhausted, I am meticulous about cleaning all my teeth, especially the molars. The reason why they’re so bad off is that I have severe acid reflux. I have had it my whole life. I even had an ulcer a few years back. That’s why I can’t eat any of that crap, and why I can’t help my teeth being somewhat decalcified. Until my doctor and I get the reflux under control, there’s nothing I can do to improve my teeth.”

(I sat back, opened wide, and let her resume cleaning. She was silent for a few minutes, before softly starting to catch me up on the doings of her own kids, who I hadn’t seen in years and was glad to hear about. The rest of the appointment went smoothly after that, and the dentist was informed of my reflux before walking into the room, so he didn’t repeat her mistake. I ended up needing all five of my wisdom teeth removed — apparently I had an extra one — due to extreme decalcification. They were honestly getting spongy by that point. But the visit ended well, and I still go back to the same folks, sans lectures now.)

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