No need for staging, context or fluff, let’s get right down to business today. Below is a list of things that drive people to seek dental treatment, both locally and abroad. Those with small issues can be treated locally; it is often expensive, but manageable for most people. Those with more serious dental problems, especially those seeking full mouth restorations, dental implants or dental surgery, often travel to places like Costa Rica for dental care. Want to avoid the dentist and traveling overseas for dental care? Note the following:
Perhaps the most delicious invention known to mankind, chocolate has helped rot peoples’ mouths out for generations. Those fortunate to have the money to buy it often do not have the good sense, desire or discipline to fully clean their teeth, or opt to savor every last spec of flavor. This leads to cavities. Tiny little ones develop at first, and bigger ones as the full brunt of the ongoing damage sets in. If you indulge in the byproducts of the delicious nectar of the cocoa bean, I suggest you brush often as most contain massive amounts of sugar. This is experience talking, and I encourage you to heed this advice to avoid spending valuable time in the dental chair throughout your life. If you throw caution to the wind, plan on spending a fortune with your local dentist, or hopping on a plane to head to Costa Rica for quality, affordable dental care.
This stuff is just plain out destructive and has been the main driver of bad teeth and the resulting profits of dentists worldwide over the past 100 years. Hard candies are at the top of the list of teeth destroyers; giving consumers the double whammy of sugar and an unforgiving strength that is equally likely to break your teeth as satisfy your quench for flavor. The Top of the Chart winners in this category: jawbreakers, rock candy, and the almighty Blow-Pop. Taffy, available in both hard and soft varieties, can provide joys of flavorful explosions in your mouth, right before it extracts your teeth right out of their sockets; or with the hard type – chips, cracks or breaks them on the first contact.
- Not brushing
This may be a “no-brainer” now to college grads and the less educated alike, but it wasn’t always. Thousands of years of picking wild-beast flesh and other stuff out of our teeth was more a matter of comfort and practicality than hygiene and appearance. For millennia, basic survival skills determined whether or not we even lived long enough for our teeth to start rotting away. Until the advent of tools like knives and forks, our teeth were critical to getting the protein we needed to get to our next stage of evolution. And finding a good mate relied more upon clubbing and mortal combat than brushing. As Maslow so aptly pointed out, things like the arts, and hygiene were much higher on the list of Things to Do, and often never reached or enjoyed by our ancestors. Out-running bigger-toothed creatures and finding something to eat, as opposed to fashion and style, were likely a focus of human daily routines way back then.
- Not flossing
Who would have thought that a thin waxed or un-waxed piece of string flavored or not, would one day save us from so much pain and suffering. If you are not a big brusher, hopefully, someone gave you the guidance and counseling to be a dedicated flosser. Flossing removes the chunks of leftover goodies that give the bacterial organisms a smorgasbord to enjoy. They set up camp, call their friends and have a field day lying around in your mouth, playing their disgusting microbial games, and defecating where they eat and play. They have the comfort and safety of living in a calcium cave-like environment where they can concentrate on doing what they do, all day, every day; replicating. Want to invest in your dental hygiene in the 21st century? Invest a few dollars a year in dental floss. Those alternatives, matchbook cover and business card corners, toothpicks and other household items you try that may be able to dig the un-chewed remnants of your meals out can often do as much damage as good. Don’t be cheap, and put your money where your mouth is. Buy some dental floss and keep it handy at all times.
Want to tempt fate? Have a puff. Take a drag. Show others how cool you are at blowing smoke rings. Smoking can be fun, social and entertaining; it can also be a calming ritual or relaxing hobby. But smoking takes its toll on teeth and oral hygiene. Never mind the stains and odor, which are pretty ugly and repulsive; the tar and nicotine they leave behind, that sticks to your mouth like a good oil paint on canvas, can be viewed as a sea of carbon that pollutes your oral cavity and prevents good things from living the best life they can. And microbes don’t seem to mind the added ambiance; like cockroaches, harmful bacteria can survive in just about any environment.
- Enthusiastic sportsmanship
Nothing can do damage to your smiles like a hi-speed hockey puck, heel, elbow or knee to the jaw; or a solid wall or floor that brings your momentum and great play to a sudden stop. No one likes to spit their teeth out after a good catch, tackle, or acrobatic feat, let alone a bad one, but the thrill to accomplish wonders and glory is just too tempting for many. Dentists around the world have grown up around tending to people who were unfortunate enough to have made the play. Usually, the results are not a small chip, they are often smashed and battered mandibles and maxillas that need reconstructive surgery; and the wires, screws, bolts, dental implants and false teeth that go with them.
You like the way your parents look? I hope so, there’s a good chance you will look that way too. If they have lots of natural teeth left at 70 years old, you stand a good chance to maintain them also. It’s not a given, but a baseline; a starting point. It can be a guide to set your expectations and a chance to do things differently than your genealogy if you do not like how they turned out. But the times and resulting environment must be considered too. Grandma and Gramps didn’t have skateboard parks, and ramps to launch bike riders high into the sky, but they did have things like WWI and WWII – real gladiator stuff. So while they were in the trenches or traveling from one dangerous South Pacific Island to the next, their wives and children and other family and friends waited at home, grinding away their teeth awaiting their loved ones’ return. The ever-changing landscape of world politics and entertainment aside, longevity, strength of bones, duration of hair, sight and teeth can be traced back to the trunks of your family trees. For those of those with bad teeth genes…sorry, life is not always fair.
Tetracycline, bisphosphonates and other heavily prescribed drugs may help control acne, osteoporosis, and other conditions, but they are not necessarily the best friend to someone seeking a healthy, well-functioning mouth. Likewise, non-prescribed and illicit drugs can be extremely detrimental and can also cause irreparable damage to your teeth, gums and the underlying bone. Make sure whatever your doctors prescribe for you is necessary. In today’s world, many holistic practitioners would argue that many of these drugs are not needed, that alternatives are available, and safer for your overall health. That will remain a decision(s) between you and your trusted practitioner(s). If you plan on following Doctor’s orders, have the wherewithal to ask what effects it might have on other parts of your body, like your teeth. For those of you considering a life with crack cocaine or similar ADDICTIVE drugs, my advice is to stay away. If you live long enough for your teeth to rot away, which isn’t long, you will be one of the lucky ones. But lucky ones often have mouths that look as appealing as a rusted out muffler on an old beat up car. So if you want to attract a mate, smile and be able to eat without liquefying everything in a food processor or buying Gerber’s baby food as a staple, my suggestion is to find another hobby.
Interested in Dental Tourism or want to share your favorite dental success story or nightmare? Please contact Howard Siegler at [email protected]