Clean the Mouth, Protect the Heart
Posted by Anni on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Taking care of one’s teeth is a thankless task. Day in and day out we’re expected to brush, floss, use mouthwash, and avoid the tastiest treats to protect our teeth. As kids we’re taught to incorporate it into our daily routine. And yet, for those of us with a genetic predisposition, mouth-drying medications, or anxiety-related acidity, our teeth still decay. My teeth are in decent shape. I have a few problem areas that my dentist wants to watch, but I’ve only ever had one cavity. Still, as I get older, I notice my teeth changing, and not for the better. They’re scragglier than they once were—a chip here, some yellowing there—and they’re wearing down from all the grinding I do in my sleep. I know I will probably get gingivitis some day. I’m not looking forward to that day.
My husband, on the other hand, has pretty problematic teeth already, and he’s only in his early thirties. He has a terrible gag reflex, so brushing his teeth is a practice in trying not to throw up. Of course, this means, more often than not, he doesn’t brush. He’s got receding gums and sometimes his breath is a little off-putting. Don’t tell him I said that. His dentist gives him all sorts of advice and most of it is laughably difficult to follow. For example, he tells my husband to brush three times a day, after every meal. If my husband brushes after a meal, he loses that meal. Stomach acid isn’t so great for tooth enamel. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I try to fill the bathroom with pleasant mouth-cleaning products like mouthwash, tongue brushes, and tasty flavors of dental floss. I even bought the man a water pick (which he has used exactly once.) I know his dental health worries him, but he puts it out of his mind. I guess he figures one day he’ll have dental insurance and he can just get everything fixed then. I can’t help but wonder about all of the potential maladies my husband’s brushing phobia is causing. Studies have shown that the bacterium that causes gingivitis is implicated in heart disease. I suspect that is just one of the many potential problems poor oral health can cause, but that’s enough. Heart disease is terrifying! I think I’ll go print out some studies and then I’ll leave them lying around the house for him to find. If that’s not enough to scare him straight, nothing is.
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