The Floss Experiment

(I love how my Dentist’s office is built to relax you but then you can’t really escape the reality that you’re in the chair. lol)

Most of the experiments in my life usually revolve around society or culture but occasionally I’ll perform a biological or physical one as well. For the last six months, I’ve been trying out my own oral hygiene experiment.

Since I was really little, my parents trained me to have two unconditional, unrelenting routines per day. Wake up- Brush your Teeth/Wash your Face. Before Sleep- Brush your teeth/Wash your Face. Every day for as long as I can remember, this has always been my routine.

However, growing up, as a kid, I had tons of cavities. I could never understand it. I had friends who barely brushed their teeth that never got cavities. I had the most rigorous of routines and I was always having to get fillings. EVERY single dentist appointment usually yielded another appointment to get drilled and filled (TWSS).

I got to a point where I had an actual phobia of going to the dentist. This was later elevated after some gum grafting oral surgery I had like five years ago. It was the consequence of massive gum degradation from constantly rolling my tongue ring along the ridge of my gum and teeth. High price you pay for rebelling and having an oral fixation.

The surgery itself wasn’t too bad but after the procedure there was a horrific process of “lifting” that was done while I was NOT sedated but instead given local anesthesia which was not effective and I felt everything. Anyhow, all I know is that I’m usually cringing every time I’m in the dentist’s chair now and I am clutching my hands together very tightly.

The pain of the cleaning process used to be so discomforting that I used to rake my nails across my hands to distract the oral pain. I never understood why it had always been so painful all these years. The hygienist always encouraged me to floss but I was quite stubborn with changing my routine. I would floss like once or twice a week and sometimes forget.

My teeth are so damn close to each other that it’s not easy cramming the floss in between them. It wasn’t until they started making the flat ribbon type of floss that I was able to try to do it more on a regular basis. So six months ago during my last visit, I had kicked up my routine to about 3 times per week. There was still minor bleeding during my cleaning and she was having to deal with a lot of plaque etc.

She told me I was prone to more plaque build up because my teeth are extremely straight (one of those blessing/curse things) and the tiniest of particles can be trapped without me ever seeing in the mirror. I also have all thirty-two of my teeth including wisdom ones that fully emerged by the time I was thirteen so it’s all packed in tight. BUT I hated flossing so I was very stubborn and resistant to adding it to my nightly routine.

After the last visit, I decided to do an experiment to floss every single day without skipping until my next dentist visit. I figured if flossing every day would make a painless dentist visit then I’d continue. If I still had massive pain, bleeding, and soreness afterwards (oh the pounding, pulsing, throbbing ache!), I’d say fuck it and throw away my floss.

Well during last week’s visit, I got my experiment results! There was virtually no pain whatsoever and she hardly had to clean my teeth at all. There was no bleeding, no soreness. She kept saying I did a great job and that my teeth were beautiful. Btw, beautiful teeth to a hygienist and dentist means they look healthy (not the Christy Turlington type of beautiful).

So lesson learned. Teach your kids to wash their faces, brush their teeth, and FLOSS every day! Actually, flossing is more important than brushing if you can believe that. The health of your gums are far more important than the sparkle of your teeth. Once your gums get hardened, there should be no pain and you’ll have short easy visits to the Dentist!


Jemimus said...

My dentist told me more or less the same thing, but put the emphasis more on toothpicks than flossing.

I have never had a cavity in my life, but my teeth and gums are sensitive, and my gums are often a little infected.

Stuperfly said...

It's interesting to read this today, because I'm heading to my dentist tonight for my 6 month cleaning. I usually put off flossing until 2 months before the cleaning.

Strumpet said...

I hate flossing - my hygienist gave me a pick with a little rubber tip that I use instead.

I know how you feel about cringing at the dentist. I will spare you the details of getting my lower wisdom teeth taken out at the School of Dentistry in Norway. Suffice to say, it was BAD.

When we moved to Denver 2 years ago, my boss swore up and down that her dentist was different. I've had terrible gum 'pockets' my whole life - it's hereditary apparently - and I really really hated going to the dentist.

Well, turns out boss lady was right. My dentist now is absolutely wonderful. And so is my hygienist. When I told them about my experience in Norway, the cluck-clucked their tongues and promised I would never have to go through that ever again. So, now I get nitrous even for my cleanings every three months. It's wonderful.

Thanks for sharing - it's good to know the flossing s working for you!

Igoo said...

The term "gum grafting" made my whole body recoil nervously. Flosspicks are the best invention ever, no need to stick you fingers in your mouth.

Alachia said...

hmmm. I feel like I'm going to have to do a video or something! toothpicks and plastic picks aren't as effective as dental floss when it comes to eradicating plaque building food particles. The same goes for improper flossing... it only gets the portions of particles that actually don't effect your teeth as much. It's only effective if you get between the gum and the teeth. I've seen the light! I must spread the word. :D

ah ha! found a video a dentist made:

Patsy said...

Flossing regularly will indeed help keep the teeth and gum healthy. During my last visit to my trusted Bloomington IL, dentists' my specialist told me that I should make it a routine to brush and floss daily to avoid gum problems and the possibilities of losing my teeth. I tried to make it a habit and during my first tries- my gum bleeds whenever I floss! I've read in a number of dental sites that bleeding gums should not stop me from flossing. In fact, bleeding signals that I need to floss more and to visit my dentist regularly. Oh, yeah. Before I forget, got to contact my dentist. Bloomington, IL, thankfully have great dental facilities and friendly dentists to assist us in oral care. Glad, I came across your blog and thanks for sharing your dental experience. It was fun reading your post, Alachia!

Jeffrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

What the hell are these comments? lol

Raymond Duke said...

I highly agree! Flossing is so simple yet it makes a big difference in your health.