Friday, April 16, 2010

Cavities, bruxism and flossing, oh my!

Since this is a blog about stewardship, I feel that I need to confess an area in which I've become quite remiss in taking care of my resources: dental hygiene. (Probably not what you were expecting, right?!)

I somehow inherited good genes when it comes to teeth. While my poor older sister had a retainer, braces, and oral surgery, I waltzed through my school years with nary a cavity. (I got 2 while in college, and blame the soft serve machine. Ha!) In addition, only two of my wisdom teeth ever came in, so I only had to have two removed.

So what, you may ask, is the problem? There are two main ones:

1. I rarely floss (by rarely, I mean a few times a year!)--I find it awkward and uncomfortable, and I just never seem to get in the habit even when I renew good intentions.

2. I grind my teeth at night. At Eric's urging, I finally tried a mouth guard (ironically, a drugstore freebie scored by my dentally-unfortunate sister!) I could hardly stand it the first night, but after that, I have to admit it's not so bad. I've been wearing it every night for a couple weeks now. Eric said he's really noticed a difference, and hopefully, my dentist will, too.

I also used to faithfully have twice-a-year check-ups. Now it's been almost three years since I've seen a dentist. (For the record, Eric hasn't been in an even longer time!) In writing this post, I'm giving myself a nudge to call and make an appointment. Our insurance doesn't cover dental expenses, so that's the main reason I haven't gone, but I know I need to make this area more of a priority!

I'm curious--what's your "dental status"?

Photo credit: Flickr


Dayna (Spear) Guenther said...

Guilty as well. I too inherited naturally healthy teeth, though I had braces in my 30s to get rid of migraines. But it seems that my propensity for having food stuck in my teeth is worse now than before braces! Since I never flossed *before* I had braces, and hardly ever *while* I had braces, it's really hard to get in the habit at age 38! I'm with you on this one! I *did* actually make a dental appointment this past week!

thehomespunheart said...

Oooh - so glad the night guard is helping some!

Well, because I've been through so much in the dental arena - I'm faithful to go twice a year! However, I do not floss and likely won't - I just can't stand to do it!

While I've never noticed grinding my teeth - I have noticed in the last year or so that I clench my teeth at night - sometimes I wake with a headache from it! Ack - I think it is stress related, but still - I need to figure out something for that!

Mom said...

I agree with you about flossing -- I hate to do it (although I do it more than a few times a year)! I still see the dentist twice a year -- it helps to have a dentist that you like (as well as his staff). I'm thankful you have had good teeth and no braces/oral surgery. I think you'll get back in the routine of going when your children are old enough to watch your example -- that's what kept me faithful about going for years! (Don't end up like Dad -- he has only been to the dentist once in 30+ years!) I'm glad the mouth guard is helping you at night. I've heard that some dentists charge a lower fee for those without dental insurance. Love you, Mom

Tracy said...

I'm a so-so flosser. I haven't had a cavity in ages but I did have braces and had my wisdom teeth pulled.

We don't have dental insurance either but I talked with the dentist office before the first appointment and let them know. They told me they have a cash discount if I pay in full at each appointment. That helps! We go every six months faithfully because as newlyweds we neglected our teeth and paid a steep price later!

Katie said...

I (along with my dentist) wished I like flossing more. I can't tell you how many times I've been "gently told (scolded)" by the dentist that I need to floss more. :-) It's funny ~ I always leave the dentist office thinking to myself "this time I'm going to do it EVERYday"...ha. I've gotten to the point of making myself a chart for me and the kiddos about it...but chart is not in use anymore (I think you have a timely reminder for me as I have a check-up next week!)

We are good about the twice a year dental visits, however, due to not finding childcare for the littles, I have missed a couple of cleanings over the past five years.

We, too, don't have dental insurance at the moment, but we have found that the exams are reasonably priced through our current dentist. Thankfully, my hubby has insurance through the military, so his costs are not incurred. And thank God for his providence, we should be getting dental insurance soon through my hubby's new job!

You have found one of my weak points, Carrie, and I'm sure my dentist will thank you for your little accountability quiz here...I'll have to mention it! :-)

Sheila said...

While I am not by any stretch of the imagination a great flosser, I do find that if I skip flossing now, my gums just feel like they need it - not like when you need to brush your teeth, but as something that feels good. I don't know how to explain it at all, but it does help me keep in the habit. You didn't mention the type of floss you use, but that makes a huge difference to me. My teeth are very close together, and I can't stand using any floss other than Glide. Other flosses just shred and drive me nuts. If you don't enjoy it, maybe you could try some different types. There is a bigger difference than I would have imagined. We are faithful about teeth cleanings twice a year, but we do have insurance coverage. I'm sure I would have a harder time being as regular if we didn't.

Brie said...

Guilty as charged when it comes to the flossing. I always try to get in the habit after I get home from the dentist and she says "You only need to floss the teeth you want to keep", but it only lasts for about a week and then I get lazy.

I do go to the dentist at least once a year, but only because my hubby's insurance pays for most of it. When I didn't have dental insurance, I'd only go once every other year.

erin said...

Thank you for confessing your dental habits . . . it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only that hasn't been to see a dentist in a few years! Though, I know that at some point (probably soon!) I am going to really pay for not going -- my reason is the same -- no dental insurance (and a healthy dose of fear!).

Carmen said...

My dentist had me get a specially made mouth guard this year (not covered by insurance and very expensive). I also had to have periodontal cleaning which involved knumbing my gums and pulling them away from my teeth to clean underneath. I have flossed and rinsed (with a floride rinse) every night since that painful procedure. I hope to never have to do it again.

There are studies that say you can help prevent heart disease by flossing...

I hope you have called and made your appointment already.

Anonymous said...


I too do not like to floss and had stopped going to the dentist regularly as our insurance does not have dental coverage. However when I got my first cavity at the age of 30 it ended up being a root canal, because it started at the gum line not on top of the enamel. The dentist said it was due to my lack of flossing. The root canal cost more than if I would have just gone twice a year. I bought the flossers and find them much easier to use.
Kim Miller

NeedANap2 said...

Usually I'm good about going twice a year but haven't been in a while due to moving and waiting for my husband's insurance to start. Thanks for the kick start! I'm terrible about flossing, hate it hate it hate it. My husband has gum issues and the dentist recommended Colgate Total so we use that.

I use the Reach Flosser, it has a long handle like a toothbrush and you replace the end with their "insertable" flossers. That's the only way I'm able to floss! :)

(When we didn't have dental ins, I called different dentists to ask how much it would be for cash (usually included credit card too, we pay ours off every month) payment. Then I picked depending on the cheapest, but we didn't like that practice so I went to the second one on the list and we stayed there for about 2 years.)

Ginger said...

Hi Carrie,

I'm a teacher, so we have dental insurance, though it's not great. My son and I go twice a year, and neither of us floss. I can't stand it. To show that our insurance is not that great, about 5 years ago I needed a root canal and had to fork out $800 myself; the insurance only paid little over $100.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I have terrible teeth. It's genetic. (I had my first root canal at the age of 12.) And I'm terrified of the dentist. Not a good combination. However, I'm more fearful of pain and yucky teeth.

I wish I could say that I go to the dentist every 6 months, but I only go once a year. That's mostly because I get bad news every time I go. Usually it's that one of my old fillings is breaking down, and I need a crown. Last year it was a cavity that formed under my crown. That was $1200 because insurance said it was too soon for the crown to have to be replaced. *sigh* Having insurance doesn't always help.

I'm very diligent these days about flossing every day, and I'm very proud of that, as I didn't always do that. As someone else said, the type of floss can matter. I can only use Glide floss. The cheap stuff can't get in between my teeth without shredding. If you make yourself do it every day, it really does become a habit you don't want to stop.

Frances said...

Here's an are where we definitely differ! I brush twice a day, floss every night, and visit the dentist twice a year...and I have for years! I LOVE the feeling of professionally cleaned teeth. That and my gum sensitivity prompted me to get an electric toothbrush, which I also love.

Still, I have NOT been good about brushing my daughter's teeth. She has 6 of them now, and I only remember to help her brush them about once a week. Bad Mama!

Katie said...


Have you ever heard of the "HydroFloss" system? It's a little system (oral irrigator) that shoots water around your teeth. The pricetag scared me away several years ago when my former dentist mentioned it ~ but I think some dentists offer a discount on it. Anyway, if regular flossing is uncomfortable for you, this might be something to look into. I wanted one but then forgot about it.

Also ~ one of your commenters mentioned that good dental hygiene can help prevent heart disease...I've read this in lots of literature too. In fact, the reason some people get antibiotics before dental visits is to prevent heart-related complications in certain conditions.

Anyway, I just remembered that Hydrofloss system since your post yesterday and wanted to share in case you wanted to check it out!

Have a great weekend!

Kara K said...

Molly Cronk - Boes would have a hay-day with you. She's a dental hygenist. She likes to floss while watching tv. Did you know you can have your teeth checked at a dental school/program? I know our community college in DM has one, perhaps you should check around ... Those visits are usualy free/cheap. I know they are all monitored by trained professionals, so it shouldn't be too scary :)

debra said...

I know that wasn't meant to be funny but I laughed!

I go every 6 months and have since I can remember. I actually like to go- providing I don't have a cavity or anything. I don't floss much either. The hygeinist always makes feel like I am the only one in the world who doesn't, which clearly, I am not. Thanks for making me feel better about it.

We don't have dental insurance either. Haven't for ages -we pay less than $100 per visit when we don't need xrays and a bit more when we do(once a year). I think going twice a year keeps things from becoming a huge problem and hopefully keeps any major issues at bay. I have looked into getting dental ins (when my hubby was self-employed) and it really wasn't that great. Not at all like health insurance.(not that it's all that great but I think you know what I mean)

Abbey said...

I just had to comment because I have so many dental problems, despite the fact that I brush 3 times a day, as well as floss, use special mouthwash, and a special toothpaste I leave on for bedtime every night. I have had fillings in almost every tooth, except my four bottom front teeth, and have had 4 root canals and too many crowns to mention. Our health insurance is great, but dental is terrible, so we've paid thousands out of pocket.
What makes me the most mad is that the dental hygienist gives me a hard time and accuses me of not flossing, despite the fact that I do it every day per her exact instructions. Other friends who go to the same practice say they never get a lecture even though they never floss! My dentist finally explained that my teeth have very soft enamel, which can be genetic. Soft enamel will not only break down, causing cavities, but it attracts extra plaque no matter how much I floss. My grandmother lost all her teeth in her 20s and my Mom has had similar issues to me, so it just seems to run in our family.
So, if you have great teeth, enjoy it! You're very lucky and hopefully your kids will be too! :-)

Anonymous said...

I came to your post quite accidental and just felt I had to comment with the same intentions as Katie.

I recommend the Waterpik. It's also an oral irrigator but less expensive, I believe, then the HydroFloss.

I also have a very hard time flossing and this is what I use and enjoy very much. It's much easier to use then the flossing and doesn't take that much time.

Check it out -

Good luck!

The Millennial Housewife said...

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Keep up the great blogging :)

Musashi said...

I was blessed with good teeth too. Probably flossed less than 30 times in 26 years! Parent's lack of (and my lack of) dental insurance is my excuse. Luckily I found Xylitol about a decade ago and its kept my mouth very healthy! But I am scheduling an appointment next month, so thanks for reminding me.