Tipping Point

Teeth of a model.

Teeth of a model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, as I sat in my dentist’s chair for my six-month teeth cleaning and checkup, I felt a cold hand clutch my heart as it occurred to me that at some point my teeth will probably reach a point of no return when the last tooth will fall out of my head.

No I don’t have plaque buildup or the disease that attacks gums, I have saliva that attacks my teeth according to the hygienist. She says my chemistry has changed as I have aged.

That might seem unthinkable in today’s modern world of dentistry and medicine, but lately, every time I visit the dentist he finds something else. Not only that, I have discovered if you have a filling, decay can set in underneath and cause havoc.                   


teeth (Photo credit: jfraser)

I declined the full mouth X-ray this visit, fearing what might lie beneath. My motto with teeth is, “If I can’t feel it don’t fix it.” Besides, my regular hygienist is on maternity leave and I don’t completely trust the novice who sprayed water in my face three times while cleaning my teeth.

You’re doing okay says Dr. L., but next time you should have the full mouth X-ray. Okay I say meekly, knowing the regular gal will have returned by July, and happy to escape his clutches and check out at the reception desk for six more months of denial.

On the way home from our dentist, David tells me he has a cavity. This is his first in 30 years or more. For a second, I think “it’s about time,” and then remember I don’t want him to fall apart either.    


When we were younger, neither David nor I had regular dental care. We lived in the South during the Depression and WWII and came from relatively poor families where dental care was not a high priority in our parents list of concerns.  My parents doctored my sibs and I with a home-made first aid kit. I remember sulphur and gauze and iodine.  Dad pulled splinters out of our feet and wormed us periodically. Mom gave us paregoric for various ailments.  I frequently had stomach aches from eating things I found outside, so paregoric was an important medicine in our house.

I don’t want to cause anyone distress with the list of home remedies, so I will fudge a bit and say, we never had regular medical care when I was young. I had my tonsils out and my appendix burst, but other than those encounters with doctors, all my bouts with pneumonia and other “childhood” diseases were my Mom’s responsibility.

When I had children, I didn’t know the difference between no care and some care and spent an inordinate amount of time in the emergency room at the Naval hospital with my children or me having the odd miscarriage.

English: Dental caries. Bacteria, sugar, time ...

English: Dental caries. Bacteria, sugar, time and teeth all combine to produce tooth decay മലയാളം: ദന്തക്ഷയത്തിനുള്ള കാരണങ്ങൾ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After I became more educated and landed a decent job, I discovered that other people saw doctors for annual checkups. Furthermore, I now had a great insurance policy and could afford the co-pay, so I could see a doctor on a regular basis. Eventually, I saw a string of dentists on a regular basis too.

After a while, I began to realize that preventative care made a difference, and I learned more about the role good nutrition and exercise play in healthful living.


Two years ago I underwent testing for leukemia for many months. Eventually, the hematologist/oncologist I saw during this time decided I had no problems and let me go.  During the time I saw him, however, he had an elderly patient in her 90s who reached the “end of the line” with possible treatments. He was quite distressed as he was forced to tell her he could do nothing else for her. 

At some point many of us will hear a similar message. The day will come when the pills don’t work and neither does anything else. But before that day, on some day you hardly notice, you will reach a tipping point of no return in your health. Another reason to live in the present moment. 




12 thoughts on “Tipping Point

  1. Whenever I have dental X-rays, I ask for a lead apron because I suspect that’s why I ended up with thyroid cancer. I’m trying to stay healthy so I don’t reach that tipping point too quickly. Keeping my fingers crossed too.


  2. As an early boomer, I can say, yes, we had much better care. And by the time second grade rolled around for me, it was a big deal to go to the dentist and bring back to school a certificate saying your had been officially okayed. Then your school pix went on a pink construction paper tooth. We were so proud when our class had 100% of our photos on the display.

    Now I wonder why I recall those paper teeth as pink, ugh. And what did some of the kids’ parents have to go through to afford the visit and any work required so that the certificate was acquired? Or was the “certificate” just to acknowledge we appeared, not that problems had been addressed?


  3. My grandfather (who died when I was a baby) was a dentist, and so my mother always “drilled” good dental hygiene into her kids. To bring home the point, she kept her father’s old foot-powered dental drill in a corner of her bedroom — that was enough to scare us all into brushing and flossing religiously.


  4. You are going to laugh. WW now has an “ap” you can download to your phone. When you want to know the points in a package, you just activate the ap and point the phone at the product. LOL
    G can do that on his phone, leaving me switching yogurts and other thing in amazement.

    Yes, we are back to meetings and logging in our foods. I had a 14 point slice of birthday cake at a meeting yesterday and was only 8 points over. The fink G didn’t have any cake.

    It got it up 70 here today. Like a gift.


  5. I see my mother growing old and taking care of her is really a character building for me. I see how she is aging and then think about myself, what kind of situation would I want to be in when I’m her age? What should I prepare from now? That’s why I’m very into natural foods and stuff because I want to be able to also ‘be there’ for the grandkids :).

    Thank you for your insights here.


  6. I have been avoiding dental x-rays and mammograms lately, because last year, I underwent so many x-rays (lungs and abdomin) last year for my surgery. I don’t want too much radiation.


  7. ..dad regularly wormed us . . . .
    …pneumonia and other childhood diseases . . . .


    Funny, how times change, I swear I was a lot healthier before I went to see doctors and dentists regularly. Or perhaps I am just getting old and decrepit?

    Anyway, no doctors for me either when I was small, and certainly no health giving foods, just regular basic feeds, if I was lucky.


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