I have always hated going to the dentist. To illustrate this point, I have been so terrified that I avoided going to the dentist for several years in a row. If it was not for my wisdom teeth making some trouble, it would have probably turned into a decade. Also, after I got my braces removed, instead of going back for yearly check-ups, it took me 14 years to go back - that's when the retainer came loose on one end. Plenty to be ashamed about. And to be honest, I am still not the perfect example of getting my two yearly visits in.
I am not sure where my fear and avoidance started, but I assume having multiple milk teeth pulled out as a kid and the pain that came with wearing braces might have something to do with it. During my school years, I frequently visited the dentist and there was never anything that needed to be done. Thus, I never understood why frequent visits would be necessary and figured I will go to the dentist when I have a problem. So after becoming 18, I kept washing my teeth two times per day and did not pay much attention otherwise, except the times I went to get my bottom wisdom teeth removed. Instead, I focused on the more exciting things in my 20s.
When I was researching about possible things I could do to improve my autoimmune disease I started looking at health from a more holistic point of view and started to see how hormones, thyroid, lifestyle, digestion, and dental health are connected. Through reading and exposure to dental health topics (thank you Annika for inspiring me on this and many other topics!), my understanding regarding the health of teeth and dental hygiene has changed.
I no longer see teeth as lifeless objects that can be fixed without any consequences. I now know that they have a dynamic core and they are very much alive. I learned that we actually want bacteria in our mouth (just in the right balance!), why we should not wash our teeth right after eating, why mouthwash and toothpaste with fluoride might not be a good choice, and why flossing and oil-pulling are good habits to include in your daily routine. I also learned that having metal in your mouth can have a bad impact on your health and that not optimal healing after wisdom teeth removal can lead to health issues. I was excited to find out that a brighter smile can be also achieved from the inside out and that when tooth decay starts to form, for some time, it can still be healed with the right bacteria and nutrition.
I am nowhere near to having perfect dental hygiene habits nor am I the best example when it comes to visits to the dentist (still more motivated about this only when issues arise), but I have already come a long way in my mindset and everyday habits.
First of all, I eat healthier than ever before in my life. I try to snack less frequently to allow my teeth to recover between meals. I use an electric toothbrush and I brush my teeth for longer and more thoroughly. I use natural toothpaste and I do my best to floss and do oil-pulling. On my to-do list is figuring out the fate of my remaining wisdom teeth, making sure I get to the dentist for regular half-year check-ups and professional cleaning, and of course - sticking to all the good habits that I named before.
Annika recommended them to me, now I recommend these books to you:
Book tip 1: “Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums” by Nadine Artemis, gives guidance on natural, do-it-yourself oral care and tips on how to prevent issues and how to gently restore dental health. Book tip 2: "It's All in Your Mouth: Biological Dentistry and the Surprising Impact of Oral Health on Whole Body Wellness" by Dominik Nischwitz, explores common chronic conditions and how they might originate from the mouth, nutrition's impact on health and microbiome of the mouth.
If you prefer to listen, Dominik also regularly appears on podcasts, for example in Submerge podcast.