I’m always humbled when existing patients refer their friends and family to our dental practice. So often, these new patients are as delightful as those who sent them! That’s why Sheila stands out from the ordinary. She was a handful, because she refused to believe that our comprehensive first exam had revealed nine cavities. She’d seen her former dentist eight months before, and insisted that they skip x-rays because she wanted to delay the expense. He told her that she had no cavities.
As is customary for a complete exam, we took x-rays and found decay under fillings and between some teeth. These spots go undetected, without x-rays. When they go undetected long enough, they lead to root canals – an infected nerve that must be removed. Once the blood supply from the nerve is gone, these teeth tend to become brittle and require a crown to hold up under biting pressures.
There was a pattern to Sheila’s decay pattern, so I started asking about her diet. I also asked about her job. She was an executive secretary who handled the details for many manufacturing projects. For breakfast, she grabbed a breakfast sandwich and large coffee at the drive-thru and ate it at traffic lights. Nursing the sweetened coffee all morning, she felt proud that she kept her energy and focus to maintain 3-4 balls in the air, simultaneously. She tried to keep her weight down by skipping lunch and/or walking around the block a few times. By 2pm, she’d make a run to the vending machines for a couple bags of chips and a carbonated beverage, to tide her over. Dinner consisted of frozen dinner in the microwave, because she was too tired to cook. Her favorite beverage? White wine. Then she crashed in bed by nine, usually too tired to floss. I hope this doesn’t sound familiar to any of you…
Sheila’s decisions created a continuous attack of acid to her teeth most of the day. Beverages sipped over time just coated the teeth with sugar, over and over. They already have an acidic pH. Bread and chips are carbohydrates that convert to sugar in the mouth. White wine tastes sweet for a reason, and processed meals are often packed with flavor enhancers that could have a sugar base. Americans love their sugar. Few of Sheila’s food choices were raw, often considered “detergent foods” that displace the sugar coating on teeth. And the toothbrush passed by for a minute each bedtime.
That sugar was remaining between Sheila’s teeth and around existing fillings for 18-24 hours each day. If you are a “Sheila”, or know of one, please realize the impact your choices have on your dental health and share it with someone in your world.
Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.