Head tilted back, mouth stretched to the max to accommodate fingers, cotton, and something metallic and vaguely medieval, my plaque was sandblasted to smithereens. Dr Mintz peered inside, cocked an eye, and remarked, “You have very youthful gums.”
I cannot deny my unalloyed pleasure on hearing this. I’d been thinking about aging recently, recalling actress Bette Davis’ warning “Old age is not for sissies.” I’d noticed my eyes resembling the hound of the Baskervilles, spots on the back of my hands spreading like pond scum, and my muscles, deprived of their once-youthful supply of testosterone, simply unresponsive to endless reps on the Nautilus.
So I was pleased, really, with this compliment and answered an enthusiastic “Neeennngowgggrrth,” meaning, “Really? Wow, great!”
Dr. Mintz understood immediately “Yes, really. Good job.” An experienced dentist can translate the stuffed-mouth garble of patients with the alacrity of a UN interpreter.
“Mmmggghh. Aaahgg. Ghhrrgh.” Enough. I’ll simply translate myself directly.
I wanted to say to Dr Mintz, “Anyone can do it”
As a quick aside, though I’m a physician and have seen just about everything over the years that might make a non-medical person recoil with dread, for me personally my toes curl in horror at the idea of gum scaling and its evil twin, root planing. Just the thought of anyone digging deeply around my teeth with a sharp object…wait. I’m pausing to recover before I continue.
While Phillip Roth’s 1995 novel Sabbath’s Theatre garnered generally positive reviews and ultimately won the National Book Award for Fiction, one critic (who actually did like the book) remarked that it contained something to offend just about everyone. I had no issues with the explicit sex scenes, misanthropy, perversions, and foul language. What was unforgettable to me is that one character was a periodontist and several paragraphs were (excruciatingly) devoted to the details of gum scraping.
The novel drove my gum diligence to even higher levels.
And now I’m going to share with you how I’ve kept my youthful gums. Even if you have some chronic gum disease, we’ll talk about reversing it before someone’s hand holding a sharp, dreaded G-11 pointed-tip scaler approaches your mouth.
Keeping your gums healthy: the prevention protocol
First, everything you already know. Stop smoking (does anyone still smoke?), for antioxidants eat fresh fruit and veggies, for omega-3s eat fish (or take fish oil capsules), for calcium eat dark green leafy veggies and dairy, and slash your intake of sugar and sugary foods.
- Floss twice daily.
- Choose a toothpaste specifically designed for gum health. PerioBiotic contains a strain of Lactobacillus that gets rid of a harmful Streptococcus mutans, which proliferates in chronic gum disease.
The most important supplements for preventing gum disease are:
- Vitamin D 2,000 IU daily (you can get your D level tested to determine if you need an even higher dose).
- UBQH (high potency CoQ10) 50 mg twice daily.
- Green Tea Extract One capsule twice daily (or just drink a cup of green tea once or twice a day).
- B complex Once daily.
Reversing gum disease
You’ve just heard “Looks like we have some gingivitis here. Might need to see a periodontist.” The hygienist no longer makes eye contact with you, turns away, busying herself with her tools.
“Oh, God,” you think. “There must be something I can do.” There is. Many cases of gingivitis can be reversed with a few diligent weeks engaged in the following daily ritual.
First stock up on these supplies:
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
After flossing and brushing your teeth, switch to the soft toothbrush and gently brush your gums. At bedtime, pierce one vitamin E capsule, squeeze the oil onto your fingertip, and massage it into your gums. Then, using the Q-tip, paint your gum line (top and bottom) with the liquid folic acid.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekends
Floss and brush as usual. Then, switching to the soft brush, pour a little of the powdered C into your hand and use it as a tooth powder to brush. Rinse and paint your gum line with folic acid as described above.
You should see improvement within three or four weeks. When your gums are healed, you can drop this ritual and return to the prevention protocol. Think of the pleasure you’ll experience when your dentist says, “Looks like we can skip that periodontist referral.”
Back in Dr Mintz’s office, after all the cotton and dental equipment was extricated from my mouth I thanked him for his kind words about my gums. Now brimming with confidence, I ventured a question about the state of my teeth.
“Well, David. No cavities or anything, but…well, your teeth look like what they are: old.”
David Edelberg, MD