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Going to the..... dentist...

 
garden master
Posts: 2337
Location: West Tennessee
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I’ve never had desire for or excitement to go to the dentist. I dread it. Part of it is I don’t like sitting in that reclined chair with someones hands in my mouth. ugh. I also have one tooth that is sensitive to cold, and I find the cold water jet tooth rinsing thing unpleasant and painful. I just don’t ever want to go back.

My wife wants me to go, citing that if I don’t, calculus will build up around my gums, I’ll develop periodontal disease, and when I’m older (early 40’s now) they’ll be pulling my teeth. Here’s my thoughts: While I know that is certainly possible, I think there are other possible outcomes as well, not just one guaranteed bad one. I know teeth are alive and can remineralize and stay healthy through quality food and daily removal of foodstuffs through brushing. Without trying to turn this into a discussion about healthcare ethics or philosophy, I think modern dental care is no different from western medicine: it treats the symptoms instead of the underlying cause. I know lots of older people who have gone to the dentist regularly throughout their lives, yet still have root canals or teeth removed. When they get further up in years, most of their natural teeth are gone even after a lifetime of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. I’ve also read about elderly people who still have all their teeth, usually rural sea-faring or village folks who have never eaten processed “foods” and have consumed real fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat & fish their entire lives, having never sat in a dentists chair.

I’m an american, and I used to eat crap. I don’t any more and haven’t for a number of years now. There have been a few occasions where I have, like a long day, over a hundred miles from home, and fiercely hungry, and my wife and I end up at a mexican restaurant. It tasted ok, but then I felt like crap and my gut was messed up the next day. I hate it. Eating right gives me energy and makes me feel good, physically and mentally. Let me try to get back on track here… I really believe if I continue to eat well, consuming nutrient dense food I grow along with other staples I can purchase from a small farm, that I can stack the deck in my favor of avoiding dental problems by giving my body and teeth the resources it needs to stay healthy. Notice I didn’t say prevent. I recognize it’s entirely possible that I could lose a tooth later in life.

I think it’s also important to note that I brush twice a day with baking soda. I quit using toothpaste with fluoride approaching ten years ago, and quit using toothpastes last year because of the glycerin in them and the negative effects it has. I admit I don’t really floss, I used to and did for a while, but that habit has always been a struggle for me to maintain.

Are there other permies who don’t go to a dentist, or haven’t in years, and how is that going for you?
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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There have been times when I've done a few years between appointments. But that was about time and money, not that I thought it was a good idea. Some problems are much less costly when nipped in the bud. I think that's true for most dental issues.

When I visited the dentist about 6 years ago, I decided to get a cleaning done which would have been my first, at 48 years old. The girl poked around for a minute and then she called the dentist over, look at this. He determined that there wasn't any plaque and that I was lucky enough to never need this service. No charge. I was attributing it to healthy eating, but he said some people just have that going on while others struggle with plaque.

I wonder how much of your aversion is financial? I know that that's the only thing that has kept me out of the dentist chair for long stretches. But it's not super expensive for them to have a look. At least that way you know what is going on. Refusing to look and have someone qualified give their opinion, seems like something that could backfire.
 
pollinator
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Location: Piedmont 7a
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Hi James, I am not a dentist, nor do I play one on TV, but I think the key concern is gum health. Plaque builds up, leads to gingivitis, leads to gum/tooth/bone loss. I have heard of a link between gum and heart health as well.

One suggestion is to use a sonic care toothbrush - I have used one for over 20 years now and have had no gum issues and very minimal plaque at my regular checkups.  I am in no way affiliated, but really do think it does a superior job at minimizing plaque.

I hate going to the dentist too, but for me, a cleaning every six months and early identification of small issues before they get to be big issues beats a root canal/tooth loss/dentures every time.

Of course, this assumes you can find a very conservative dentist who does not have a huge boat payment!  
 
pollinator
Posts: 630
Location: Southern Oregon
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James - I'm with you. I don't go to the dentist, haven't for years. My teeth are fine. My parents have spent a fortune on their teeth, and I don't think it's really helped much. My mother has still lost teeth, my father has a mouth full of gold, but they just go along with whatever the dentist recommends. If something hurts, I will go. I brush with a toothpowder, baking soda, calcium carbonate, clove, DE, works great. And my teeth aren't nearly so sensitive since I stopped using toothpaste that contains whitening agents. Whitening agents are painful, I don't understand why people use them.
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I agree with Artie in that it's really a gum issue.

Dentistry concerned with the aesthetic is mostly vanity, to me, though I consider orthodontic procedures that correct spacing and placement of teeth so that they wear evenly is important, if you aren't so lucky as to never need realignment.

Going to the dentist is like going to a mechanic. Some are better than others, some are more honest than others, and some use educational dogma to sell product. That says nothing of the validity of the field.

I think it's short-sighted to not go to the dentist. If you have a headache, do you take a painkiller of whatever sort? If it's ongoing, do you seek out the cause? If it's related to your mechanical alignment, do you continue on with the problems because you disagree philosophically with the chiropractor, or do you let them adjust your back, shoulders, and neck so you're no longer in constant pain?

Do you maintain your vehicle so that it wears gently and evenly? Do you keep it clean, and do more thorough cleanings regularly to keep accumulated dirt from damaging interiors and protective finishes?

In many ways, your teeth and gums are no different. It is a living system with mechanical components. The chemistry of the mechanical components plays into their wear and tear, and ultimately their lifespan and failure conditions. You can optimise their chemistry, and from what I read, can encourage remineralisation, but that in itself won't solve mechanical issues or address gum health.

Incidentally, I had been something like six years without a dentist before getting extensive coverage with my current employer. I had no cavities. My issues were with gum health, and plaque buildup, and habits that can lead to the retreat of the gumline. I think that the kind of extensive cleaning that a dental hygenist can provide can reverse damage of years of neglect, increasing the positive effects of a nutritional approach to dental care.

I just had three wisdom teeth torn out of my face at the age of 35, not two weeks ago; I have no secret love for dentists, especially not at present. But just because their approach is limited to the treatment of symptoms and prevention of unhealthy mouth situations from a bacterial decay perspective doesn't mean that it should be discarded.

-CK
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 3011
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Forgot to add, if cost is an issue, I know several people who go to the dental hygenists' school for discounted service, and several dentists who do discount days/fee schedules for those unable to pay.

Also, there are private dental hygenists' offices that only do cleanings, and the kind of brief look-about that would show them if there's anything you need to see a dentist for.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 443
Location: South of Capricorn
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I also agree, your teeth are very important things and need preventative maintenance.

For a series of messy reasons I went a total of about 20 years without dental care. I used other excuses but a lot of it was about me not wanting to spend the money. Took me a few years to sort out the damage once I went back to get real care, and I wasn't a person who ate crap, didn't brush, etc. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Basic prevention actually does make a difference. Even in my dog who only eats raw food and bones, he still gets plaque build up, and he'll be going soon too.

I have since gotten my act in order and found a dentist I love. I went to her last month and I have a few sensitive teeth, like you mention. She painted a sealant on them after the cleaning and I can put an ice cube on them now, it's fabulous. She also does her cleaning with a jet of baking soda, not the scraping-instrument crap that used to give me the heebie-jeebies. If there is anything you don't like, or you're trying to avoid, tell the dentist! they work for you!! You might be pleasantly surprised that there are alternatives.  


@Cris Kott, swift healing to you. I also got 3 wisdoms out at 35, my dentist convinced me that if I waited any longer I would "bleed too much" and that was what pushed me into action. It turned out to be a breeze, but oh the angst that was involved beforehand!!! I was way too much of a baby about it.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Thanks, Tereza.

I had remarkably little bleeding during and after, and virtually no swelling at all, but I was on Advil and Tylenol for a week or so. Avoided the prescribed opiates, which made me happy.

People treat things in a binary way sometimes for no good reason. Brushing with salt and soda, or DE paste, or oil-pulling works for you on the daily? That's great. But if I change up my dental hygiene regimen in any major way, you can bet that I will be back to the dentist six months thereafter to monitor any change. To my mind, it's the only intelligent course of action.

-CK
 
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