Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Did We Learn?: The Flossing Cavity

“What did we learn?”  As my first post with this title, I feel I have to explain the significance of it.  I swam in college on partial scholarship, so yes, I was a decent swimmer (yet another question I hated: “Oh you swim? Are you good?”).  Whenever someone on the team did anything idiotic that resulted with pain, hangover, or anything else causing suffering, I had a teammate that would go: “What did we learn?”   While annoying when directed at you, it was hilarious when witnessed involving other people.  Now that you have the history, let’s jump in to this week’s lesson: The Flossing Cavity.

This week, I had 2 (yes, TWO!) cavities filled.  Having NEVER had a cavity filled before, I was terrified, to say the least.  Of course, I made the mistake of asking everyone I knew what their experience was like.  Bad, bad Meredith!  This, like many medical procedures, results in everyone sharing their horror stories: “my numbing medicine didn’t work,” or “my filling fell out the next day” stories bounced around in my brain for two weeks.  I will be SURE not to tell anyone when I am pregnant, about to have my gallbladder out, or ready to have a mole removed.  I’m not sure my poor little brain can handle all THOSE horror stories!

Back to my mouth:  I’ll be honest.  I do my best to take care of my teeth and mouth: I brush 2-3 times daily, use mouthwash, and floss when I remember.  Now, at the ripe old age of 25, after multiple sealants, I was facing the filling of not one, but two cavities.  I was beyond anxious.  After my cleaning, I schedules my procedure.  There was two week’s lag time between my cleaning and my fillings – talk about anxiety!  I had nightmares that they drilled through my head during the procedure, accidentally filled the wrong tooth, and so much more! 

My experience during the procedure could not have been more different (thankfully!).  I requested nitrous gas, which I probably ended up not even needing (hindsight is 20/20).  It made me feel drunk as sin, but at least my anxiety was kept at bay.  My dentist was kind enough to use a topical numbing agent so that I didn’t even feel the injections of numbing medicine!  Having half your face go numb is an interesting feeling – you feel like you are drooling uncontrollably out that side of your mouth AND you can’t seem to close your lips all the way together.  I wouldn’t recommend you experiment with that feeling, but once you’ve gone through it, you’ll totally get it.  I digress.  Half way through filling my first cavity, the dentist commented that this was a “flossing cavity.”  Naturally, I was intrigued and asked, as best I could with my mouth full of 19 pairs of hands and dental instruments, what exactly IS a “flossing cavity?”  The dentist explained that it is a cavity that could have easily been PREVENTED from daily flossing.  I’m more of a once every six weeks type of flosser, so you can see why I was instantly depressed.  I had brought this on myself, despite my best efforts.

You see, I hate flossing and the idea of flossing.  Wrapping this tiny string around your finger so tight you lose feeling in the tip of your finger only to pluck misplaced food particles out of your mouth - Gross (yes, with a capital G!).  I hate mouths anyways, but playing in my own mouth is not my idea of a fun daily routine.  But this time, I guess it would have served me well if I had made an effort to floss a little more frequently than once every six weeks. 

So, in conclusion, “What Did We Learn?”: Floss, darn it!  Even if you hate it, even if it kills you (at least you will have great teeth!) – FLOSS!  Learn from my pain, anxiety, and mistake.  It may save you a cavity – or two, in my case!

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