Dentists instruct their patients on proper brushing and flossing techniques for a good reason. We all have been told that gum health requires brushing twice a day and flossing and that failure to take care of our teeth and gums can lead to gum disease.
Flossing has never been a regular or easy habit for me to adopt. I have had bleeding gums at the dentist since my teen years. I would leave the dentist after each cleaning with plans to start flossing, but they quickly fell through after just a few days. To compound my disinclination, my teeth are very close together and flossing is difficult for me.
My negligence recently caught up with me at the age of 35. I was diagnosed with advanced gum disease, an inflammation of the gums that can impact the tissues and bones that support teeth. This condition can lead to pocketing around the teeth, causing them to become loose if the condition advances.
My dentist examined my teeth and gums and took probing depth measurements of the gum tissue around my teeth. He informed me that I had deep pockets below my gumline. My dentist explained that these pockets trap plaque and food debris, leading to further damage. Because my pockets were so deep, I was past the point where the condition could be reversed by brushing and flossing alone.
I was scheduled for two deep-cleaning sessions with the dental hygienist. Each session was an hour and a half in length. My bottom teeth were cleaned during one appointment and my top teeth were cleaned during the other.
The hygienist scraped the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surfaces of my teeth and below the gum line. A numbing gel was first placed on my gums to make the procedure less painful.
After the scaling was completed, the dental hygienist placed an antibiotic product in the deep pockets under my gumline to kill the plaque bacteria living there. I was given a course of oral antibiotics and was prescribed special mouthwash.
I was instructed to brush twice a day with an electric toothbrush for two minutes each time. My dentist and hygienist recognized the difficulty that I have in flossing because of my crowded teeth, so they instructed me to use a Waterpik electronic flosser twice a day instead. In addition to this electric flosser, I also use an air flosser with an attached reservoir filled with antimicrobial mouthwash in the morning and at night.
My first follow-up appointment and another cleaning were scheduled for three months after the first treatment. My dentist is confident that I can turn my gum health around if I follow his and his dental hygienist’s instructions carefully.