Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goal #25 Complete - Oh My Bleedin' Gums!

Goal #25: Before my annual dentist appointment, floss every night for 30 days. COMPLETE
Mothers of the blogosphere, cover your children's eyes for am I about the reveal a truth you may not want them to be privy to: I've never in my life had a cavity and I rarely (seriously - hardly ever, unless I just ate popcorn) floss my teeth.

Even with my cavity-free record, I'm always reprimanded for not flossing after the dentist's minions make my gums bleed. (Honestly, even if I did floss regularly, I would never do so with the level of vigor/near violence that oral hygienists exhibit - no wonder my gums turn into a gushing red fountain!)

I'm not a fan of dentists. Beyond the endless waiting, the sterile smells and the four-minute, how-much-did-I-just-pay-for-that-cursory-glance by the actual doctor (things that are common for all medical practices) there are three main things that cause me to dislike dentist visits specifically: 

1) The taste of rubber gloves in my mouth. Seriously - couldn't someone develop favored gloves for dentist? Though I suppose the obvious danger there is that some children (or adults, let's be honest) may not posses the self-control needed to abstain from licking, sucking, gnawing on or flat out biting the strawberry encased fingers of the dentist.

2) Awkward conversations. Chit-chat during medical exams are uncomfortable enough, but when a dentist has his hand in your mouth and asks you how your weekend was - answering that question is problematic to say the least. Nothing like being a drooling, slurring ignoramus while talking to a person with an impressive string of initials after their name. I'm convinced they do this simply for their own personal amusement. 

3) Bleeding. Do they really need to use such force when flossing my teeth? It almost feels a little vindictive at times, though I can't image what pent-up resentment the oral hygienist has towards my gums. Especially when one considers the pile of cash they are being paid to perform the simple (though, I'll admit - gross) task of flossing another person's teeth.

So back to my goal: Tired of being reprimanded and convinced that it was the un-called-for exertion being used by the floss-wielding hygienist that made my gums bleed, not the fact that I never floss, I undertook the goal of flossing regularly before my annual dentist appointment to see if it would change anything. For about 30-out-of-35 days before my appointment, I dutifully flossed my teeth. This morning, I trudged into the dentist's office for my annual cleaning. ("Trudged" might normally be an exaggeration for such circumstances, but my appointment was at the bright and cheery hour of 7:00am, so trudge I did indeed.)

The results? I still bled, but not from the flossing. (How had I forgotten about those horribly painful metal hooks that they scrap your teeth with?? My mouth is still throbbing.) My hygienist and dentist were both friendly, but not my-hands-are-in-your-mouth chatty (+1 point). The dentist spent 30 seconds looking at my teeth, plus two minutes chatting with me for a grand total of a two-and-one-half-minute visit (-4 points). My mouth still tastes like rubber (-2 points). Finally: for the first time ever, I was not reprimanded for not flossing! Woo-hoo! (+10 points for me)

Conclusion: While I'm still not a fan of shoving a piece of string between my pearly whites, it seems to have made some small difference. In fact, I was morbidly fascinated by the amount of gunk I excavated from my teeth each night. I think the knowledge that such a plethora of food still remains in my mouth after brushing might be enough to keep me flossing... even if only semi-regularly.

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