When Teeth Are Like Garage Floors

Yesterday I had one of my periodic tooth cleaning appointments.  This time, after already using the pointy-ended scrapers and the flat scrapers, the ultrasonic scaler, the water spray, the buffer, and the dental floss, the hygienist frowned thoughtfully.

“The tongue side of your teeth still has some staining,” she said with some impatience, as her rubber-gloved hands probed my incisors.  “I’m going to try a new procedure.”

Whhgl?” I responded.

The procedure first involved draping me with towels that covered all parts of my upper body except my mouth and left me unable to see — which was itself a weird sensation when you know the person hovering over you is wielding sharp implements.  “There’s a bit of a spray,” she explained.  She then proceeded to blow puffs of particulate matter against my teeth — which was an even weirder sensation, because humans normally seek to avoid getting clouds of dust in their mouths.  But after numerous puffings and rinsings and suctionings, she removed the towels and expressed evident satisfaction at the result.

All this, to address the apparent dinginess on the back side of my teeth that no one sees.

If you go regularly to a dental hygienist — as 9 out of 10 dentists say you should — you eventually realize that the hygienist community is simply borrowing cleaning techniques initially used in American garages.  First, it was simple scraping and scaling, like a homeowner using a hoe to try to remove flattened globs of gum or tar from a cement floor.  Then it was powerwashing, with those pulsating jets of water that leave your face coated with a fine, wet mist.  And now, with this dust-puffing device, hygienists have adopted sandblasting.

What’s next?  Using powerful chemical solvents?  If you want to see what’s coming down the pike in periodontal technology advances, I suggest you just check here.

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