Why Dental Hygiene Is Really Archaeology
The next time you are in the dental chair for your oral wellness exam, aka dental cleaning, ponder this; there is some archaeology going on in your mouth. An archaeologist is a person who studies human history through the excavation of artifacts and remains. As a hygienist, I do some excavating and recovering of artifacts myself. Much like an archaeologist, I carefully and tediously remove layers upon layers of old deposits to reveal what lies beneath. Do I analyze the artifacts I find? You betcha! I once found 1/4 of a peanut lodged between the gums and an ortho band. 2 weeks ago you ate peanut M&Ms?!?! Are you kidding me? GROSS! That qualifies as an artifact, an oral artifact. That is totally a true story by the way. I could go on for days about what I have unearthed from the various subgingival abysses I have explored, but I will spare you. Actually, I am quite the masticated food detective. My skills are amazing. Is that the skin of a bean? A tiny green spec? BOOM! Street tacos with frijoles rancheros. And it’s not even Tuesday because that would be far too easy.
Wanna keep that digging to a minimum? Don’t get me wrong, I love to do it, but if it is avoidable most people prefer it. So, let’s do a quickie review on what you can do day to day to keep the oral excavation as minuscule as possible. First up, an electric toothbrush. I tell patients all the time, it’s the work smarter not harder model. Just do it. You will remove way more bacterial plaque. Next up, cleaning below the gumline. Floss, prestrung floss, soft picks, whatever floats your boat. If your tissue is overall healthy, these things are great for daily maintenance. If inflammation is present, I recommend something that will clean 360° around the tooth such as a Waterpik or Air Flosser. These water lavage devices are fantastic for removing biofilm below the gumline. In a Waterpik, you can mix your favorite mouthwash with
2 and 1/2 ratio and NOT damage the internal components of the unit. I got this info straight from the horse’s mouth, Waterpik. Another tool in your chest should be oral probiotics. When you’re in the office, I have a few good suggestions.
So yeah, when you’re getting your teeth cleaned, there is a bit of archaeology going on. When is the last time you have been in to see your oral archaeologist?