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Confessions of a Girl Who Doesn’t Floss.

October 28, 2009

Sunday morning I had my first dentist appointment since IT’S BEEN SO LONG I CAN’T REMEMBER SINCE WHEN. My dental habits, like most of my habits, are moderate in their shamefulness. It’s not that I NEVER clean my room, it’s just that I don’t do very often (mostly when I can no longer walk on the floor or I fear for my feet when I get out of bed to pee at three in the morning). It’s not that I never test my blood sugar, I just sometimes forget to do it when I wake up in the morning… and before I eat… and before I go to bed… and when I’m low (but other than that I’m great). And it’s not like I NEVER brush my teeth, it’s just that I don’t floss.


I made an appointment a couple of weeks ago with a dentist office that’s just a few blocks from my apartment on the Upper West Side. I figured that after having lived on the East Coast for two years, it was finally time to really put roots in the ground and find a dentist and on Sunday, Erik escorted me to my execution. I mean appointment.

I arrived, filled out the necessary paperwork and waited to be called. Since it was a Sunday morning, I was the only patient there, so I didn’t have to wait too long before a nice woman who I couldn’t really understand because of her accent escorted me to the back. She asked me when I last had X-rays done, and I told her I couldn’t remember.

“At least three years,” I said.

chattering teeth (1)So she went ahead and did the X-rays which HURT and I nearly suffocated twice from having this big, pointy plastic thing hanging out in my mouth. I think patients need to get together with manufacturers of dental equipment to tell them what it’s all about. At least diabetes companies attempt to make things comfortable and easy for us. Dental manufacturers probably laugh maniacally in their offices at all the poor souls they inflict their pain on because no one would really retaliate against something they only have to put up with for an hour twice a year.

After the X-rays were done, the doctor came in. He’s a big, Italian guy who told me he was my friend and wanted to help me. That’s always what they say right before pull the trigger.

He asks me if I’ve had orthodontics (yes, for 2 years in middle school) and he tells me I have some bone loss. He shows me the X-rays where the bones in my mouth aren’t going up as high as they should. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that bone loss is not a happy thing. He says that he can’t really tell if its periodontal disease, but that if I don’t start flossing I’m going to do LOSE ALL MY TEETH AND DIE!!!

Well, OK, that’s not really what he said, but he did say that me not flossing is a no-go and that I better start flossing THREE TIMES A DAY. He said that if I floss, I should be able to prevent actually getting periodontal disease and everything will be rainbows and butterflies and my diabetes will be cured.

OK, he didn’t actually say that, either, but he did say that flossing would prevent further damage, like losing my teeth and having red, disgusting gums and the other gross stuff that happens to your mouth. Which I saw because he made me watch a video. Yeah, I had to watch a VIDEO. That’s how bad I am.

I don’t know why I don’t floss. I have bought COUNTLESS containers of floss and I usually do it for two days and then I stop. It’s like logging my blood sugars. Or exercising. You know, THINGS THAT KEEP YOU HEALTHY.

Why is healthy stuff so hard to do? I don’t get it.

  1. October 28, 2009 3:53 PM

    You just reminded me I need to make another dentist appointment…and to go floss. Sigh.

  2. October 28, 2009 4:00 PM

    You know, if you asked me which was easier, checking my blood sugar or flossing, I would answer “checking my blood sugar”. And of course, I do neither often enough. Yet lancing your finger, squeezing some blood and waiting for 5 seconds for results is infinitely simpler than trying to get between my back molars with a waxy bit of mint-flavored string!

    • October 28, 2009 4:08 PM

      I also think it’s because there’s a much more immediate effect of not testing: You feel like shit. With flossing, I don’t notice a difference in my day-to-day life. Until that whole LOSING ALL MY TEETH thing kicks in…

  3. cyntheeuhh permalink
    October 28, 2009 4:21 PM

    The healthy stuff is hard because there is so much to do. With diabetes, it seems to affect everything. Eyes, dental stuff, the weird nerve problems I have that was brought on from diabetes, gastroparesis, and a whole bunch of other things. How is anybody expected to life the perfect health life? I mean down to the ‘perfect’ meals, exercising on a daily basis, logging blood sugars, and a bunch more too. We just need to accept the fact that we just hope that we are doing enough day by day. It works for me. 🙂

  4. October 28, 2009 5:46 PM

    If I could figure out a way to floss while reading a book, I’d probably do it more often….

  5. courtney permalink
    October 29, 2009 12:51 AM

    call me strange, but i enjoy flossing (only 1x per day tho, i’m not hard core or anything)… and yeah, it’s gross to say, but i enjoy seeing bits (e.g. orange) pulled out.

  6. October 29, 2009 7:15 AM

    Lol i cant get over the fact that they made you watch a video!

  7. October 29, 2009 7:27 PM

    You know when you read something by someone recently diagnosed with diabetes about what a healthcare professional told them and you worry that they’re being misinformed because they haven’t got to grips with it yet? I get that same feeling a lot when I read about peoples’ experiences of dentistry, and I’m getting it when I read this.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but when I read a statement from a dentist that says he “can’t really tell if it’s periodontal disease”, I actually see “I haven’t been to dental school” or “I didn’t pay attention in dental school” or “I just want to make as much money as I can.” Periodontal disease is a clinical diagnosis, based on radiographic and clinical findings – i.e sticking a special probe around underneath your gums and looking at your bone levels. It can vary enormously in severity, but at any given dental exam you either have it, or you don’t. It’s the first thing you learn to diagnose when you train as a dentist, because it’s the simplest. Because it’s not the simplest to treat, though, it’s vital not to miss the diagnosis.

    I’d also be intrigued to see the evidence supporting thrice daily flossing as I’ve never come across any studies that suggest that would be any more beneficial than thorough, effective once daily interdental cleaning (which incidentally can be more easily, and also often more effectively, achieved with interdental brushes).

    Obviously I can’t tell you whether you do or don’t have periodontal disease, or exactly what you personally should be doing to look after your oral health. I can tell you that bone loss always has a cause that should be properly identified. I also absolutely agree that flossing, or some other method of interdental cleaning is definitely important for everyone with teeth, but something about your dental check up just makes me feel a bit uneasy.

    • October 29, 2009 8:08 PM

      Caro, why can’t YOU be my dentist? Are you sure you and Ian don’t want to come Stateside? 🙂

      The dentist said he couldn’t tell because the severity of my bone loss wasn’t that great based on my X-rays. He also said I didn’t have any of the gum changes that were in the pictures. He said that the amount of bone loss could be attributed to my orthodontics, but maybe he is full of crap. He also said that I need to floss more because, as a diabetic, I need to do even more than what a normal person would do on a daily basis. But hey, I’ve only gone to this guy once so I’m more than able to change whenever. From what you’re telling me, it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be a good fit for me!

      What are interdental brushes and where can I buy one?

  8. Jean K permalink
    October 29, 2009 9:48 PM


    I’m a 59 y/o T2 and been reading you for awhile. Enjoy your posts as well as some of the others. I saw earlier that you live on the UWS. So does our daughter. She is at Broadway and 68th. Would love to meet you when we see our Karen. Plan on going to see her this summer July/ August time frame. It’ll only be for a few days. Karen’s apt building is mid block across from the movie theater and a few feet down from the Food Emporium.

    • October 29, 2009 9:50 PM

      Hi Jean –

      I would be happy to meet you. I don’t like to get too specific about my actual location, but I’m not too far from your daughter. Please let me know when you are in town.



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