October: Dental Hygiene Month

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This is the tooth fairy? I pictured her differently. And what’s with the hammer? 

Question of the day: Why does a dental hygienist insist on carrying on a conversation with you while she’s scraping and poking at your teeth?  And it’s not a monologue!  She actually expects you to respond to her questions.  What’s up with that?

I recently got my teeth cleaned. My hygienist, a lovely young woman, would not stop talking about her dog. And her cats. And the dogs in the neighborhood. All the while, she was expecting more than a nod of the head from yours truly. “By the way, Mrs. G, do you have a dog?  (scrape, scrape). My answer: Mmmph. (Translation: Yes). “Oh, how nice. What kind of dog do you have?” My answer: Asha Aaasho Esshon mmff (Translation: Lhasa Apso Bichon mix).

Luckily for me, this cleaning process only takes about twenty minutes and I’m done. This is a big improvement for me. I swear, years ago the hygienist would attack my plaque for what seemed like hours. Nowadays, I floss religiously, use an electric toothbrush and stick to a twice-yearly cleaning schedule. Oh yea, and I quit that nasty chewing tobacco habit. My goal is to keep those teeth in my mouth for as long as I can. Losing a tooth at my old age sure won’t get me a visit from the tooth fairy, that’s for sure.

So anyway, since October is Dental Hygiene Month, I’m presenting you with a public service announcement:  Take care of your teeth!

Do you want to wear dentures when you’re old?

Do you want to have to gum your food to mush? 

Do you want to be one of those senior citizens who have to clean their teeth in a cup and clamp ‘em to their gums with Poligrip? 

I think not. 

Here’s a little toothy information for you:

  • Ignoring your teeth can lead to plaque, which develops into tartar; both of which take their toll on your gums, leading to gingivitis.  (think: inflammation and infection – not to mention a not-so-pretty smile).
  • When gingivitis isn’t treated, it leads to another nasty sounding tooth and gum ailment, pyorrhea (or periodontitis). This causes bad breath, ugly looking gums and even worse; tooth loss.

Now, do those two things sound even vaguely pleasant?  Not to me, readers.

There’s even been some research linking poor dental hygiene to heart disease, though the jury is still out on this belief. Experts agree that more studies are needed for conclusive evidence of this connection. But why take chances?

Do I really need to tell you how to take care of those choppers?  Nah, I’m sure you’ve heard the drill. My goal is to simply climb up on my soapbox and stress the importance of taking a whole-body approach to our health and well-being, particularly as we get older. We’re living longer; let’s make it better, as well. 


American Heart Association. Dental Health and Heart Health.

Colgate Oral Care Center. What is Good Oral Hygiene?

University of Maryland Medical Center – Gingivitis

University of Maryland Medical Center Periodontitis

©2017 Vital Aging for Women

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