Million Dollar Smile

Don’t you just hate genetics?

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but I did not choose them, and I certainly did not choose their teeth.

Their teeth?

Yep, that’s what I said, their teeth.

teeth grinding

I went to the dentist yesterday. I thought it was any old regular cleaning- I high-fived my hygienist on my great flossing technique and managed to talk my way into a blue toothbrush and orange crème flavored lip balm in my goody bag. (Isn’t the best part when they give you free stuff? I think all doctors should do this- “Oh, don’t forget your complementary compression stockings on the way out!”)

Just as I was getting ready to get my stuff together, my dental hygienist stopped me.

“It says in your chart that you’re due for x-rays to check for cavities. We should really do that before you go.”

Dun, dun, dunnnnnn.

Background: I am slightly obsessed with my teeth. Ever since I was little, I have been pretty consumed with good oral health. Maybe it’s because my first dentist was a jolly old man named Dr. Sugar who looked and laughed like Santa and always gave us lollipops on the way out. Maybe it’s because one of the best field trips we got to go on in kindergarten was to a dental office down the street where someone’s dad worked. Maybe it’s because in 4th grade we had a presentation by an orthodontist who gave us all Batman Forever t-shirts and I wore my Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy shirt advertising this random guy’s work until it had holes in it. Maybe it’s because good teeth has always been associated with free stuff for me…

dental11

I even once dated a guy who looked like this:

herbie hermie

Not kidding. It was wonderful. He had very nice teeth. ❤

Whatever it is, I am very proud of my teeth and their upkeep. I may have been a disheveled mess in my poor-health years, but I (almost) never missed brushing twice a day.

It’s just this thing about me, sorry if it’s weird. #SorryImNotSorry

Anyway, I never had a cavity until I was 24. I was actually really upset when they found it. It totally ruined my day. Maybe even my week.

As of yesterday, I have a mouth full of new ones.

I was pretty ticked off.

“How did this happen?????” I asked my dentist.

I mean, I really did just high-five my hygienist on my lack of tartar build up. She didn’t see anything amiss in my mouth. For the record, he couldn’t see anything either.

So where were these little buggers hiding?

Deep, deep on the inside of my teeth, only visible by x-ray.

“Ummmm…how exactly did that happen?” I asked.

“Well, it’s probably genetic,” Friendly Dentist replied.

Ughhhhh.

My mom and sister have both had problems of “genetic” nature with their teeth too. We have what our mutual dentist calls “soft teeth,” which is a pseudo-scientific term meaning at some point in our or our mothers’ lives, a deficiency of calcium and/or fluoride occurred and was passed on to us, affecting our own teeth from the very moment they started developing in utero.

Which is, um, weird. You know, if you think about it.

So really, my cavities are not my fault. I’d like to state that for the record.

Because, really, why else do I floss/brush/rinse as excessively as I do?

I would probably have to go back half a dozen generations into the past to find my long lost calcium/fluoride deficient ancestor who is responsible for my current predicament.

Don’t think that I wouldn’t, if I had a time machine. I’d pack a few hunks of cheese and a few dozen bottles of fluoride-fortified city tap water, and fix that problem right where it started.

There are so many components of our lives that aren’t just ours. It’s fun, and ok, a bit mind boggling, to think about. Sure, today in 2014 I have a cavity in my tooth, but it’s not simply my problem. It’s a problem that started <HeavenOnlyKnowsWhen> that I get to deal with now (#ThanksALot #RandomAncestor).

Personally, I am neither calcium nor fluoride deficient myself. I like to think the Buck Stops Here when it comes to this problem.

You’re welcome future descendants.

I go back in another week or so to get these suckers filled. In the meantime I’ll be keeping up with my regular routine.

Teeth are super important, you know?

Besides all the obvious chewing and smiling uses of teeth, did you know that your gum health can predict your heart health? Seriously. The amount of plaque build-up on your gumline is a good indicator of how much plaque is lining your arteries. This is because the plaque on your teeth is bacteria, and that bacteria gets into your bloodstream by creeping up under your gumline, and before you know it has relocated into your arteries. Read about it here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health

So sizing up the smile of that cutie at Starbucks is actually good future planning- less than stellar teeth might mean less than stellar health all around.

For instance, I’m pretty sure this guy is a goner:

dental1

Yet so yummy…

I bet you have a great smile, Chronic reader. Do you love the dentist as much as I do or are you avoiding him like the plague? Does your dentist give you a goody bag of toothpaste and floss post-checkup?

I’d love to hear from you in the Comments here or on my facebook page!

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9 thoughts on “Million Dollar Smile

  1. asouthernceliac says:

    I really don’t like the dentist, but it’s not because I don’t brush my teeth, I swear! For years before I knew I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, my dentist would gripe me out for not wearing my retainer, not flossing, and not taking care of my teeth. I would explain to him that I wore my retainer almost constantly and even taking it out to eat made my teeth move, and that my gums- like my skin- were just really fragile. Plus I have terrible “soft teeth” too- from my mom’s side of the family. 😦 Finally I got diagnosed and saw a dentist who said my tooth problems weren’t my fault, they were ALL genetic. But I still associate the dentist with being a scared little kid who got yelled at.

    • iamchronicallywell says:

      Darn it is right! 🙂 Really? No goodies at all? Hmmm…I think it might be time to suggest a policy change! My dentist loves his “product placement”- he has his practice name and phone number printed on everything, haha. I am happy to be a recipient of his advertisements!

  2. Breanne says:

    I go to the dentist next week, actually, and I have to admit, I’m kinda dreading it!! I had such good teeth as a kid and I’m good with brushing and flossing, but apparently I, too, have been hit by the bad luck teeth genes, which was also explained to me when I had a similar moment of “How is this possible?!!” when I had cavities. Like 5 of them. Seriously. Ugh. Plus, my gums are super fragile so that becomes an issue, and I have trouble with Novocain. PLUS, I don’t like my dentist and I’m not sure I trust them (lol)…but I don’t have insurance so it’s hard to go elsewhere. PPPLUS, they do give me a toothbrush, but it’s pretty much a stick with some bristles on the end (akin to a Charlie Brown Christmas tree). But on a happy note, my old dentist gave me an electric toothbrush and I can get good head refills online for cheap just because they don’t say (Oral-B) on them! Yay for good dentists!

    • iamchronicallywell says:

      Aw! Nothing’s worse than a Charlie Brown Christmas tree-toothbrush! I have an electronic toothbrush too, but sometimes all that buzzing makes me nuts, so I’ve got a manual one too. Yay for cheap off-label replacement heads online AND good dentists! I hope your appointment goes well 🙂

  3. abodyofhope says:

    The POTS support group I belong to has posts about new cavities a lot. Apparently the dehydration thing is the culprit. If you didn’t have cavities until later and suddenly they started popping up, you could probably blame your POTS :/ My fam has good teeth genes and I’ve never had a cavity until my POTS began. I really have to go to the dentist bc I know I have some trouble stirring in there 😦

    • iamchronicallywell says:

      Yep, the dreaded dry mouth is a big cavity culprit. My dentist also said that salt pills could be to blame because the higher sodium content in my saliva makes plaque stickier? I guess like cholesterol in your arteries, but salty saliva plaque on your teeth-yuck! Good luck with your own dental adventures, friend 🙂

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