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[For an audio/vlog version of this story, click here.]

A nuclear war. A devastating earthquake. Severe floods. England winning the football World Cup. A dental appointment. The mere thought of certain events occurring can make many of us shudder.

Boosting dental health: Can you handle the tooth?

What is the tooth behind good dental health?

Handling the tooth
So it was with some trepidation that I faced the last of those traumas listed, self-inflicted as it was, having organised a check-up with my dentist for the first time since May 2022. Is an almost two-year gap a long time to leave between dental visits? In any case, for such matters, I generally operate a policy of, ‘If it all seems fine and there’s no pain, then it is fine’.

I booked this appointment chiefly for aesthetic reasons. Indeed, it’s rarely been because of pain that I’ve sought oral care. The majority of my visits have emanated from issues with the false front tooth I’ve had to live with since I was 14. Teenage discos in Ireland can be — or at least they used to be — tetchy, tooth-damaging affairs.

What often happens, though, is that when I go to my dentist to just get something tidied up with the false tooth, she finds an exigency or two elsewhere.

‘Oh Brendan, have you not felt any pain back here?’
‘Eh, no. Well, I hadn’t until you started digging and drilling at it.’

Dentist knows best.

Thus, it was quite surprising when on this latest visit she asked me if I had been seeing someone else — another dentist, that is, in his/her professional capacity only.

‘So used had I become to the need for consecutive visits, it was a bit of an awkward goodbye.’

She seemed taken aback by the lack of pressing needs inside my mouth. I assured her of my fidelity to her. As referred to previously, I don’t exactly seek out extra-dental affairs.

So having done what I wanted her to do — maintenance on the false tooth-and-a-half — off I went with no return appointment needed.

In fact, so used had I become to the need for consecutive visits, it was a bit of an awkward goodbye.

‘So, when will I see you again?’
‘You’ll know when the time comes.’

And that was that.

One cynical way to view it is like an under-fire football manager getting the backing of the board of directors. ‘We have full confidence in the gaffer to get through this.’ Gaffer gets sacked the next day.

Something similar could happen with my receipt of a clean bill of dental health. ‘You can’t handle the tooth!’ Quite!

No dental dictator
More positively, I have been thinking about what might be at play if it is indeed the case that my teeth and gums are in better shape these days.

One potential factor is intermittent fasting. I have been more conscious about snacking, grazing if you will, over the last 18 months or so, to the point where I try to regularly go at least 16 hours without ingesting food. I’m guessing the mouth, as it is believed to be so for other parts of the body, gets some benefit from not being under constant bombardment by having to break down foreign substances.

I’ve also been trying to drink more water and less beer. Without really keeping a strict tab on it, I’m not sure how successful I’ve been on this front. All the same, I think my booze consumption has fallen compared to a few years ago.

Then there have been my attempts to cut back on starchy carbohydrates and certain, more sugary fruits. OK, some may say the vitamin benefits from the fruits outweigh any potential tooth damage. That may be so, but the vitamins found in many of them can be sourced elsewhere, from various vegetables, for example.

Another small change I’ve introduced of late has been the use of a bit of bicarbonate of soda when brushing with my regular toothpaste. I started doing this after reading about the potential harms of many of the chemicals in standard toothpaste. OK, I haven’t cut out toothpaste altogether but I use a smaller amount now when brushing. I did, though, experiment for a while with lemon and vinegar as toothpaste alternatives, in addition to the bicarbonate of soda.

One thing that I don’t do and never really have done is flossing. Yes, I’m not a flosser. To some tooth tyrants, such neglect is a mortal sin. To each their own, I say. I’m not a dental dictator.

All I’m trying to figure out here is what were the factors that may have led to my apparent improvement in oral hygiene over the last couple of years or so.

And I know full well that I can’t be complacent. This could all, um, blow up inside my face at any time.
Listen to The Corrigan Cast podcast here.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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