Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Healthy food and teeth

I went to the dentist yesterday. I hadn't been there in a really long time (given how my last insurance had my closest in-network dentist as nowhere I could get easily). They recommended a deep cleaning, fillings for two cavities, an onlay (cracked tooth, like a mini-crown), and eventual extraction of two partially erupted wisdom teeth. Blech.

Yesterday was the first of many parts to address all that. And it was the deep cleaning. If you've never had a deep cleaning, it takes about 2.5-3 hours. No that's not a typo. I sat there with my jaws cracked with for a full 2.5 hours. They had to use an anaesthetic gel on my gums because of the bleeding and how deep down under the gums they were cleaning. Definitely like the gel better than novocaine, which for me generally lasts until bedtime and causes me to bite my tongue at least once without realizing it.

The dentist commented on how yellowed my teeth have become. I've heard this before, and had dentists recommended whitening (not covered by insurance). This, however, apparently wasn't a discoloration of the teeth. I don't smoke or drink coffee much (though I do drink tea a lot, and the dentist said tea shouldn't have that much effect). So I learned about a new (to me) cause of yellowing.

My enamel has made a great escape.

And this has happened very slowly (looking online, it seems that there are people who lose enamel more quickly, but it's generally due to other causes, like bulimia, but for slower loss, there are the causes I'm discussing below, according to my hygienist).

So then she goes through the things which eat away at enamel, the main one being soda. And unlike the incidence of soda leading to low bone density (and osteoporosis), this isn't just dark colas. This is all soda. And it's because they're acidic. But I don't often drink soda. So then she asks about juice, which is also acidic (especially orange juice). Nope, I drink juice even less than soda. She goes back to cleaning my mouth.

Then, as we're talking about my health in relation to several years ago, she throw me the kicker.

It's my salad dressing that might be the culprit. The vinegar, to be more precise, which is very acidic. I make my own salad dressing, which is a good 50% vinegar. I also eat tomatoes, which are very acidic. And it's apparently eating away at the enamel of my teeth, letting the layer of dentin underneath show through (and dentin is yellow).

It could also be sugar from candy, which is another cause of enamel loss. I don't eat a lot of candy, but I'd have to admit that I eat more candy than I eat salad (though I eat more veggies than I eat candy).

There's apparently no way right now to replace the enamel on the teeth, though scientists are currently working on a synthisized version. I'm going to keep eating salad, and probably will keep eating some candy (though I'll try not to eat too much...it's the eternal battle). More important is the flossing. I'm really bad at that. Ergh.


MizFit said...

and it is all so friggin genetic too.

I floss all the time (ok not really :) twice a day) and brush and STILL horrify the dentist with my tartar (ick I know...) so much so that theyve mandated I go every 4 months.


can we just blame our saliva? maybe we have special saliva?!



JavaChick said...

Interesting. Guess I can see an explanation for my sensitive teeth then. Not a huge candy eater, other than chocolate, but I do have a sweet tooth. I love tomatoes and tomato based sauces, soups, etc. Honestly, I think I eat something with tomatoes almost every day.

I do make homemade salad dressing as well - usually either with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

I'm doomed.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Miz, you've hit it! I have acid breath! :) I wonder if I can turn this into a play for super-hero status? Honestly, I'm not all that great at taking care of my mouth. I generally have been flossing my teeth a couple times a month, so I know I need to (and will) do better.

Java, I definitely have a sweet tooth. I don't eat too much out and out candy (though I do have jelly belly sours in my drawer, man do I want some now), but I have popsicles and various sugar-filled products fairly often.

Glad to know it's not just me (not glad you ladies have the same problem, but at least I'm not alone here...)

WeightingGame said...

three hours? You've got patience, lady! I hope you had an iPod or somethng to distract you. I used to cocktail waitress at a bar that had jolly ranchers and now n laters on every table and I would just grind sugar into my teeth. My dentist was not happy. (the secondhand smoke was just another health bonus.)

The Lethological Gourmet said...

I know...and when I made the appointment, I didn't think it was going to be THAT bad, but by the time she was done with half my mouth, my jaws were seriously aching. But I wanted to get it all done in one fell swoop. Upside - my teeth are really clean now! And I've actually succeeded in flossing every day since then, let's hope I keep to that!