Friday, April 22, 2011

too loyal?

The dentist I have been going to for 12 years (always went to my six month check-ups) was the one my first husband went to all through high school and into adulthood.  When we moved to this city (where his parents lived), he wanted to keep going to him, so I went to him too.  My now-husband hasn't been to the dentist in YEARS, and I've been trying to get him to go since we got married (didn't want to nag him before that!), but with his work schedule, it would be very hard to go to the dentist I had been going to.  It was about a 40 minute drive to get to the dentist's office from our house or from work, so with the cleaning, etc, plus the drive both ways, we're looking at almost a two-hour time commitment.  So I started doing a little research and chose a new dentist for both of us to go to that is very close to our house.  I had my first appointment with them today, and apparently, my former dentist wasn't quite as thorough as he should have been. 

I've always been very prone to tartar build-up, so my previous dentist told me to use tartar control mouthwash, before and after I brush, twice a day, and I do religiously, and it has reduced the amount of scraping that they had to do at each visit.  And at every visit, the dentist would look over my teeth, and comment on the bone loss, and always say it was due to having braces.  I trusted his judgement.  Well, today, the hygienist was measuring "pockets" of space between my gums and teeth, and apparently, it's quite bad.  So my bone loss is actually periodontal disease, caused by tartar build-up under my gums.  It builds up, creating a space between the gums and the teeth, resulting in bone loss.  The hygienist asked if my gums were sort after a cleaning from them cleaning up under the gums, and sadly, the answer is no, so I've probably never had the proper cleaning my teeth and gums have needed.

So now the fix is to have some ultra-cleaning sessions, and then have a cleaning every three months instead of every six.  The ultra-cleaning sessions will be an hour and a half each, once for each side of my mouth.  It's supposed to be pretty aggressive and I need to be numbed for it.  The hope is that once that is done, my gums will fill in the pockets and the more frequent cleanings will prevent them from forming again.  If they don't, the ultra-cleanings will need to be done every five years or so.

The old dentist wanted to give me a gum graft to fix my slightly receding gumline on my front bottom teeth.  When I mentioned that to the hygienist, she said that receding gums is a symptom of the periodontal disease, and a gum graft is really only for looks.  So nice that my old dentist wanted to treat a symptom and not the underlying cause.  I really wish I had started looking for a new dentist a long time ago, but he was so nice, and I felt bad leaving his practice for no better reason than "it's kind of a far drive."

I'm not looking forward to the ultra cleanings, but I am looking forward to having a dentist that wants to fix the problems and not just cosmetically make things look good.


  1. I am cringing in sympathy pain for you! Thank goodness you did switch dentists and found one who might be able to stop you from needing even more drastic treatment.

  2. My sister and my husband have both had those ultra cleanings. Not particularly fun but each has only had it once. Now with more regular cleanings and the hygienist paying very close attention they are both doing well. They also recommended the use of a sonic care toothbrush. Target sells them and though its a bit of an investment at first its worth it....

  3. Had this happen in my late teens. You will get back to regular 6 month cleanings - just takes a few of the deep cleanings and checks to make sure all is good. I have a fantastic dentist and will never skip an appointment again!

    I was told to get a waterpic and put a capful of antigingivtis mouthwash in there and I have never had any pockets or gum problems at all since then... and I don't even have to floss any more. (I loathe flossing)