Darryl Hartwick, June 23 2020

Nothing like the originals

How many of us have deep pockets?

I confess that I used to have them, but not the kind commonly associated with prosperity and wealth. I am referring to the kind of deep pockets that can eventually lead to difficulty chewing your food.

I developed deep dental pockets because I did not floss! As a child and young adult, I brushed my teeth several times a day, but I refused to floss.  And here’s the thing – when you don’t use dental floss to sweep the debris and plaque from the spaces between your teeth, chances are very good that you won’t have 32 teeth to chew with later in life (28 if you’ve had your wisdom teeth out).

When you don’t use dental floss daily, plaque builds up along your gum lines. Nasty bacteria in this sticky substance produce toxins that irritate the gums and then cause infection. That condition is called Gingivitis – the first stage of disease that can lead to more serious issues. You’ll know you have periodontal problems percolating, when your gums become red and swollen, and bleed after you brush your teeth.

I underwent periodontal surgery 18 years ago because bacteria slithered their way down the surface of my teeth. The gums started to pull away, creating deeper and deeper pockets of toxic bacteria which continued to eat away the deep tissues and bones that anchored my teeth firmly in my gums. Trust me when I tell you that having periodontal surgery is not a pleasant experience.

However, practicing good dental hygiene habits is not just about keeping your teeth. Some of the 700 species of bacteria lurking in your mouth have the potential to cause inflections in other parts of the body, including your heart.

The moral of this story is to brush and floss your teeth a couple of times each day, and to have your teeth cleaned by a professional hygienist at least twice a year. Surgery, dentures, and implants may be options as we get older, but as my dad used to say, “there is nothing like being able to count on the originals”.

Darryl Hartwick is a journalist, broadcaster, and post-secondary educator who has a passion for interviewing and storytelling.

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Darryl Hartwick

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