Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Kicking It – In the teeth

First of all, I am a lazy person. And let me assure you, retirement hasn’t made me any less lazy. As it turns out, I have actually developed it into a skill set. And it seems, I am very good at it! This doing nothing.

Which has given me way too much time to watch TV. Which leads me to the second most glaring truth. Why does every person from news anchors to game show contestants sport Dudley-Do-Right-Dazzling-Hollywood-White smiles?

It seems sparkly-white choppers are the new de rigueur. And so now, always desiring to be on the cutting edge, I want twinkly-white teeth too. But at 79, it doesn’t seem possible. They are showing their age.

Which leads me to this question. As we continue to live longer, how do we keep our second set of teeth until death?

Though not by nature an investigative reporter, (that requires a lot of extra thinking), I do have common sense. Which is why I went to the source by calling my dentist’s office. I knew she would provide the answers.

It turns out saving your teeth isn’t that complicated and taking good care of them is cheap and easy. Plus, in my case, I already have the tools. The fact is I have had an electric toothbrush and water flosser for decades.

My stepson recommended the electric toothbrush to us and my 89-year-old dad the water flosser years ago. These being the two most expensive items of the three required, all total, it is just a fraction of the cost of say a new cell phone.

To my credit, I have actually used rolls and rolls of dental floss. Although, I have to admit, it wasn’t until I met my daily-triple-flossing husband that I actually finished an entire roll. But it wasn’t until he met me that he learned about using gum picks when away from home. Especially after movie popcorn. So. Doesn’t that make us even?

Here is what I gleaned from my DDS’ office: She recommends: first-thing-every-morning give your mouth a two-minute brushing with a soft-bristled electric toothbrush. If you have chronic old-peoples bad breath, buy or ask your DDS for a tongue scraper. It’s easy to use, just scrape the top of your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. Rinse. And no more halitosis.

Here’s the thing after eating, we need to wait 30-60 minutes to allow our saliva to neutralize the acid in the food before water picking and brushing. At the end of your day, always floss before bedtime.

Depending on your hygienists’ recommendations, there is a toothpaste for every mouth. In addition to low abrasives or dry mouth, there is at least one for extra whitening, there is one for receding gums, and, of course, fluoride, and now even prescription fluoride toothpaste like Clinpro 5000, available at most dentists.

Furthermore, we should always rinse our mouth with water after drinking beverages that stain like coffee, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, sodas, Kool aid, and red wine. Bottom line: rinse with water after drinking anything but water.

Get your teeth cleaned twice a year (I now go four times) and periodically whiten them using professional gels. We are warned against chomping down on hard candies, un-popped kernels, corn nuts, bones, ice cubes, and using our teeth as a tool, like do not ever open packaging with your teeth!

After years and years of trekking to the dentist’s office for fillings, crowns, and extractions, I’ve wised up. It is much cheaper to have the hygienist clean my teeth two extra times than the cost of one single repair.

Plus, with each cleaning, I get a free travel-size roll of floss, a free travel-size toothpaste, and a free toothbrush. Score one for me. By the way, have you noticed how today’s dental offices are modern and no longer resemble Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory?

What-a-ya-say, as grandparents we pay it forward to our grandkids? Send a copy of this article to their parents and book a cleaning for the kiddos? A C-note should cover the cleaning and let their dental insurance pay for the x-rays .Plus, every set of braces should come with a Waterpik in order to release the food from under the wires and to preserve the enamel against food stains.

The way I see it, with the cost of dental repairs, as kids we all started out with about $60,000 of value in our mouth. Every time we have a cavity, we need to subtract $1,000; every time we get a tooth pulled $35; while a crown is about $2,000, an implant will cost at least $5,000 per.

Before you know it, to preserve the teeth in your mouth with about 30 of them left after the wisdom teeth are extracted, just take a minute and add up what you have spent so far. I’m well over $40,000. All because I was lazy. Most of my expense has gone toward my molars because I didn’t take care of them.

Even though it takes a bit of repetition to form the habit of good dental care, I’ve discovered two things. One, if I water pick and brush 30 minutes after I eat then by golly, I’m reluctant to snack again because, I would simply have to repeat the flossing and brushing again. This may turn out to be the best diet I’ve ever been on.

After all, a healthy mouth is the gateway to good health because everything that enters the body goes through the teeth and over the gums.

Now here’s an idea that will bring us all together at the polls this coming November. How about adding a new plank to the Republican Platform like “No More Cavities”?

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].


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