This morning our dog was acting weird. She would go look up at the tree by her kennel, then pace around the yard, then come look in the window to my bedroom. She wasn’t barking, but she seemed very tense and did this over and over again.
My husband commented that she was acting strange and told me to see if something was wrong when I went out to pick greens for our smoothie. There was a very noisy bird in the tree that I hadn’t heard before, so I thought maybe it was the bird that was bothering her.
Ignoring the signs
When I pick greens, she usually walks against me so I have to pet her. Today she sat right on my feet, stuck her face in my face and wouldn’t move. There was definitely something up, but I couldn’t see what it might be.
I went in to blend up the smoothie, and my son and husband starting yelling outside. I ran out to see what was going on. As my husband had walked out the back door, the dog took off sprinting toward the tree – and toward the raccoon coming out of the tree. Yep – a raccoon! Apparently she had chased it up the tree in the night, keeping the chickens safe, and had been trying to tell us to go look!
The Fight is On!
She chased it under an evergreen hedge and all we could hear was terrible growls and hissing and a big fight. We were worried about the dog getting hurt so were all yelling for her to stop. She came out from the hedge unharmed, and we never saw the raccoon again. What we did learn is not to take unusual things for granted. We should have paid more attention to the signs she was giving us.
As I was sharing this story with a patient today, I realized there are areas in dentistry that perhaps we need to pay a little more attention to as well. We go to work every day and see the same 10-15 conditions. We clean teeth, we fill teeth, we crown teeth, we pull teeth. Then we do it all over again. If something falls outside that pattern, we should pay attention.
Paying attention to signs
This same patient had a couple of examples of things that fell outside this pattern. I was working on her cute, brave 14 year old daughter. She had a lot of cavities after getting her braces off. They were both frustrated and told me that her gums had been very swollen the entire time she was in braces. So swollen they were covering half of her front teeth, and she wasn’t able to clean them completely, which lead to the cavities.
The orthodontist and her dentist at the time talked often to both of them about making sure she was cleaning her teeth and telling her she needed to do a better job. The funny thing is – she was cleaning them. Better than most teenagers I see that don’t have swollen gums. She felt terrible that she was getting cavities, and didn’t know what to do because nothing was helping.
Jewelry and Braces
As the mother was telling me this story, she said something that caught my attention. She said she had the same problem when she was in braces – same swollen gums that nothing seemed to help. Must be something genetic…. I said, “I bet she has a metal allergy. The wire on the braces has nickel in it, and a large percentage of women are sensitive to nickel.” The lightbulb went off! Mom said her daughter couldn’t wear cheap jewelry ( which often has nickel in it) and she knows that is why her gums were so irritated the entire time in braces. So why had nobody thought of this – the poor girl had been in braces for 5 years!
Same reason we didn’t even think to look in the tree. We had never had a raccoon before. Why would we think there would be one there this morning? Most kid’s gums are fine while they are wearing braces, and those that aren’t don’t brush their teeth very well. She wasn’t the norm and no one was paying attention.
Does this happen elsewhere in dentistry? Yes!
Let’s tackle a big one for parents – the “my kids have cavities so I must be an awful parent”scenario. This same patient expressed this frustration. Despite a very conscientious diet, ultra-diligent dental care from the first tooth on and excellent tooth care at home, her kids had cavities. And not just a few – they had to be sedated to have their baby teeth crowned and pulled because of extensive decay. She felt like a failure.
After more than one child in the family has the same situation, I think it’s time to look at a different reason for the problem. What is the raccoon in the tree?? Moms and dads, read on. This one is for you. Let’s get rid of some parent guilt and talk about reasons WHY kids have tooth problems. (Spoiler alert – it’s not just because they don’t brush their teeth).
There are four reasons kids – and adults – get cavities.
- Bugs – There are millions of bacteria in your mouth, and their favorite food is sugar. Yum! When they are fed sugar, they produce acid. That acid is the thing that causes cavities. The more bugs you have and the longer they sit on your teeth making acid, the more cavities you can get.
– Solution – Brush your teeth! I like the phrase “Once a Day, the Right Way” If you clean your mouth completely at least once a day, you are doing what you need to do to keep acid and bacteria off your teeth.
Diet – I like the analogy of the leaky roof. If your roof is leaking, do you blame the rain or the roof? The roof of course! And that is what you fix. Same goes for your teeth. If your tooth is getting cavities, you need to blame the tooth, not always what lands on the tooth. You can make your teeth more cavity resistant. – Solution – Strengthen your teeth! My favorites helps are a diet rich in Vitamins A,D,E,K. Dr. Christopher’s product called Complete Tissue and Bone, and homeopathic cell salts called Calc Phos and Calc Fluor. (Take as directed on the bottle)
- Hormones – Your tooth has a very cool internal cleansing system. It has fluid that flows from the inside out to push things off of your teeth. This fluid flow is controlled by hormones. When you are pregnant, during teenage years, stressed or sick, that fluid flow can reverse and actually pull things into your teeth. –Solution – Protect your teeth! During times of hormonal change, you have to be doubly diligent about cleaning and rebuilding your teeth. So follow the suggestions for #1 and 2 and visit the dentist more frequently than every 6 months.
Genetics – This is the frustrating one. What are you going to do to change this?? You can’t, but you can be aware and work extra hard to build and protect your teeth. -Solution – Defend your teeth! ask your family about their teeth. If your parents lost their teeth at 40, and your sister is going to lose hers soon, you can bet you have genetics that will lead you down that path… unless you identify the problem and work with a holistic dentist to create an individual plan for you and your challenges.
So if you feel like you have dental issues that are not usual, that have been ignored, or that you’ve never found an explanation for, you just might have a raccoon. I love helping patients figure out how to be cavity and dental problem free. We even have gold stars to put on your forehead when you reach your goal! Don’t ignore the signs, just give us a call!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our dental practice near Lehi, Utah would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.
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Come experience Total Care Dental and you will see that our Lehi, Utah (UT) area dentists and staff offer state-of-the-art, quality dental care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Provo, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, Orem, Lindon, Alpine Highland, Springville, Spanish Fork and surrounding areas. Whether you are seeking an Lehi area general dentist, sedation dentist, or a completely different approach to dental care, we are here to provide results and the most enjoyable dental visit you will ever have! Call us at (801) 756-3737 and experience the difference with Total Care Dental.
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12 S 1100 E
American Fork, UT 84003