It’s a fact that many people pay little attention to their teeth until they feel discomfort. I’m one of them. My gum bled a bit when I brushed my teeth. This spring I visited my dentist—my first time in America. Asked how long ago I saw a dentist, I said it was at least a decade. My answer would have shocked my dentist, as Americans are recommended to have a dental visit every six mouth.
After my dentist examined my oral X-rays, she said without hesitation, “You have gum disease. You need a deep cleaning.” Seeing me looked bewildered, she explained, “We’ll numb your gum and then clean your teeth. We’ll see how it goes from there.” Off she went. (After having me awaiting her for nearly an hour, she only saw me for less than ten minutes. It’s not uncommon in a doctor’s visit in America.)
I returned to the dentist’s office two weeks later as scheduled for a deep cleaning appointment. This time, I was greeted by a dental hygienist right away. I overheard his name is George. Probably George had seen nervousness on my face, he tried to tell jokes to relax me while getting me prepared. He was no doubt less stiff than the dentists I saw in China.
As my mouth was getting numb, I felt like my face was swollen. Lying on a reclining chair, face up, I had no idea what George was doing in my mouth. With a seemingly long and pointy metal tool in his hand, he was preoccupied with what he was doing. I learned later that the tool he used is called ultrasonic scaler, which vibrates at a frequency that breaks down dental tartar on the surfaces of my teeth.
It was considerate that George had me put on a pair of dark glasses to dim the bright operating light above my face. Just when I wondered how to gargle my mouth as there was no water or mini bowl attached to the chair, George put an electric-powered tube into my mouth and said, “Close your mouth, open.” I followed. After a few tries, I realized this noisy tube was like a vacuum cleaner, cleaning my mouth for George’s meticulous procedure.
“You’ve been brave,” he praised now and then. Finally, after an hour or so, his job was done! Before I departed from that frightful chair, George showed me how to do brushing and flossing. Flossing is new to me as I always thought brushing my teeth was enough. But flossing is truly essential to prevent gum disease.
Yes, if you haven’t done so, start now! You should practice good oral hygiene every day by brushing and flossing, and don’t forget to have a dental visit periodically and soon!