Tooth Tips

Years ago, I read that if you are job hunting you should go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned as part your preparation for making a good physical presentation to prospective employers.

It sounds like a good idea to me, although, unless someone's teeth are missing or chipped, unusually beautiful or stained and twisted, I don't think I really notice them.

At any rate, I was at the dentist's office this week for a cleaning and I heard some interesting feedback on an appliance they have been selling for close to a year. It's called the Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. And, it costs about $155 Canadian which is a lot more than most other electric brushes on the market.

There are two dentists in the office I go to, a father and a son. The decision to sell the product was the brainchild of Junior and, at first, neither his dad or my hygeinist were really gung ho about it. In August, however, I had a hygeinist who raved about it and this week, I found that my usual hygeinist has jumped on the bandwagon.

She's a blunt, sceptical person and and says she still loves the manual brush but she was turned around on the Sonicare by a patient who has always had jungle-breath and badly stained teeth. This woman used the brush for a few months and came back a different person, dentally speaking.

One of the main advantages of the brush is that it has a timer which keeps you working for a full two-minute stretch which is more than people usually brush. That alone would not make such an expensive brush a good buy but it is, apparently, a major factor.

Another tip. My gums have receded due, most likely, to negligence by me. And this makes me very sensitive to pain even when I'm just getting my teeth cleaned.

I needed some major work last summer and before the dentist gave me a needle to freeze my mouth, he swabbed my gum with an anaesthetic gel so I would not feel the needle. This is a fairly recent innovation in this office and, afterward, I wondered why they didn't use this gel to make me less sensitive when they were cleaning my teeth.

I asked my hygeinist the other day and she said it was a good idea but instead of the gel she used a spray. It tasted awful but it seemed to work. I could still feel pain when she cleaned certain teeth but, overall, she said she had to fight me a lot less. So, I recommend it.

And, finally, a story about a friend. When I got back from the dentist, a friend called me. I told him where I'd been and in the course of the conversation he told me that he didn't get his teeth cleaned. Why? A dentist he used to go to told him that a professional cleaning "loosens the gums". I challenged him on that and he became very irritated. So, I got irked too and to prove him wrong turned to the All-Seeing Eye. And here is what I found.

QUESTION: My grandmother says, "Don't get your teeth cleaned by the dentist, because cleaning will spoil and loosen your teeth." That's why I am afraid to get cleaning done. Is this true? — Shruthi

ANSWER: There is a general feeling that cleaning teeth loosens them. This is not true because tartar, which accumulates on the teeth at the gum line, is full of bacteria and is an irritant to the gums.

Modern cleaning methods uses an "ultrasonic scaler" that works by vibration of the working tip and does not scratch or damage your teeth. Dirt and tartar actually gets loosened out by the cleaning method. Once there is no more deposit on the gum, they become healthy again and grips your tooth well.

So, apparently, this old wives' tale (sorry, ladies) is fairly widespread. And, since he won't listen to my argument against it, I've had to tell you.

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