I have a pretty heated love/hate relationship with dentistry and dentists’ offices. It all stems from a very young age, when my parents started to bring me to the dentist office against my will. Imagine that, even as a young child I didn’t like being told what to do. Funny. But in all seriousness, when looking at it from a child’s perspective, we drag our kids in to a dentist office with their best interests in mind. After all, oral health is extremely important. But then, we subject the kids to random strangers basically grappling their way around their mouths and expect them to sit still and be happy about it. It can be difficult, at best.
For me, it came down to the speeches. I’m not one for being lectured. In fact, I was once sent home from elementary school after telling my principal that my parents weren’t paying him to lecture me. I don’t remember what I did to get sent there in the first place but as you can imagine, it didn’t go well. As you can no doubt imagine, I wasn’t a huge fan of brushing my teeth regularly and my parents would usually give me grief over it. It got to the point where I would almost try to sneak into bed and pretend to be asleep so they’d leave me the hell alone about it. It became a point of contention throughout my childhood and especially when I’d get scheduled for an appointment at the dentist’s office.
Picture this: you’re constantly getting grief from your parents over how well you brush your teeth, despite how much effort you put into it. Then, they bring you to this medical office where random strangers basically finger-blasts your fuckin’ mouth for an hour before a “doctor” comes in to look at you and tell you how bad you’re doing and how you need to brush more, floss more… basically tell you what you should be doing in the comfort of your own home where he has no dominion. I make it sound like I’m petty and bitter, but bear in mind that I’m recalling these things from a child’s memory.
The point is, is got frustrating enough for me that I began developing a deep, sincere hatred of dentistry from a young age and that frustration carried on into adulthood. The biggest piss-off was when I would be telling the staff that I was just there for a cleaning and didn’t want an examination to be given or a speech on oral health, only to be told my parents had requested the exam and I had no choice. I’d give my parents crap for it afterwards, but obviously that had little effect. So much for consent.
This dislike of having strangers in my mouth (insert oral jokes here) carried on into adulthood, to the point where I occasionally neglected my oral health for months on end, going well beyond a year. There was always an excuse; either I was transferring between postings or moving houses or tied up on shift work… When I’d finally go in, I had done myself more damage than good since my cleanings would take longer due to the prolonged absence from the chair. I eventually came to accept my fate of having to visit the dentist’s office every four months at their recommendation.
It still isn’t easy; I usually schedule a cleaning only to have the hygienist say, “I see you haven’t been examined by the dentist in quite a long time. Can we fit him in with you, today?” In the interest of my oral health, I’ve often said yes but for the most part, I usually make it clear that I’m only there for the cleaning and want nothing to do with the dentist. It makes for some tense visits but it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks and as an adult, I’m paying for the cleaning so do the cleaning! (Takes deep breath and exhales slowly).
In recent years, dentists have begun addressing a recessed gum I have at the gum line of my bottom teeth. Although I understand the logistics behind what’s happening and the risks, I have no interest in having the roof of my mouth painfully grafted to attach to a single tooth. I’ve been through enough pain in my life. Last Wednesday, I had a cleaning appointment where they addressed this concern yet again, which I promptly responded to leave it alone and just do the cleaning. like parrots, these guys…
All jesting and complaining aside, good oral health is important and quite integral to one’s overall health. In recent decades, studies have shown that poor oral health can contribute to heart disease, cancer and can even have an effect of Diabetes. HealthLine.com has a good article on the topic that you can read here. And that’s on top of the obvious stuff, such as cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. So despite all my pissing and moaning about it, oral health is pretty important, especially to people with Diabetes who are basically affect by EVERYTHING.
All in all, it doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. Good oral health starts with you, at home. Brush your teeth regularly. Although the mantra was a MINIMUM three times a day when I was a kid, the prevailing number is at least two. Brushing first thing in the morning gets rid of all that bacteria that accumulated and is conveniently sitting in your mouth, not to mention getting rid of that nasty morning breath. Pair that up with a decent mouthwash and you’re good to go. Brushing right before bed ensures that you remove all the food particles from your mouth rather than let them sit against your teeth and gums all night while you sleep and decay your teeth.
Flossing or using a water pick, which was recommended for me this time around, is also important. Oral health starts at home with you. We get so busy in our daily lives that we often neglect little aspects that are important to pay attention to. Good oral hygiene and health is an easy way to prevent issues that would otherwise burden and endanger one’s health unnecessarily. Will I get over my dislike of dentists? I have faith but I doubt it. When something is rooted in your psyche since childhood, it can be difficult to drop. But that won’t stop me from taking my own steps to ensure good oral hygiene. With everything Diabetes throws at me, it’s one less health problem I need to be worrying about… ☯️