originally posted on What the Flicka? by Erin K. Moffat
I’m going to let you in on a little secret—I can get a little self conscious about my saliva production. My orthodontist used to call me “Saliva Woman.” I recently apologized to my dentist for producing too much saliva and his assistant said, “don’t worry, that’s actually good! Saliva helps fight off bacteria.” Good to know!
I love my dentist’s office. It’s full of great energy and a staff that genuinely cares. So when someone told me some disturbing news about kissing, bacteria, and tooth decay, I decided to get to the bottom of it and interview my dentist and dental hygienist. I often think, “I don’t know where you mouth has been.” Is this not pertinent first date information? Who knows what sort of bacteria could be lurking in someone else’s mouth? What started out as a silly question for my dentist turned into a very informative dental visit.
Q: I was told that if I swap spit with someone with poor dental hygiene that the bacteria in their mouth can attack your teeth, causing decay.
A: Not exactly! Our bodies are made up of bacteria, and more harmful strains of bacteria can be introduced into your mouth. What you’re talking about is really in extreme cases only.
Q: Good—I don’t want to allow someone to have a hostile takeover of my mouth. Just to be clear, if I kiss someone with a dirty mouth, will I then in turn have a dirty mouth?
A: You can control your dental hygiene and influence your partner’s by helping them turn their dental hygiene around.
Q: Is there some sort of dental screening process that you can do?
A: A good dental exam is the key. If you really want to date someone, you probably shouldn’t ask these questions.
Q: What should I ask then?
A: Hey, I love my dentist. Who’s your dentist? I was just there—when was the last time you went?
Q: How do you know who has compatible and incompatible bacteria?
A: That’s getting too specific, you can’t really do that! With a normal person you’re not going to have to worry about that. You are carrying it into a crazy a level by asking for a bacteria test.
Q: Can I bring my dates in here and have you check their mouths?
A: Sure, if you can find someone willing to do it.
Q: Should poor dental hygiene be a deal breaker?
A: Don’t make it a deal breaker! There is a lot of fear and negative baggage in dental histories. A lot of things can be fixed with treatment and antibiotics. It’s a wonderful feeling if you meet someone who has had a bad experience dentally, and you’re able to be a positive influence and have a positive effect on his or her dental hygiene. If they’ve been afraid, then you can encourage and reassure them of the importance of seeing a dentist. A man’s dental health can be turned all around because of the influence of a good woman!
Q: Is it true that if you drink or eat things with sugar it’s like you’ve created a sugar marinade…on your teeth? I just imagine my teeth sitting in a sugar bath! (Marinade is what I call it; it’s not really a dental term).
A: Sugar changes your PH level. We’re at a neutral PH, but whenever we eat sugars in carbohydrates and sweetened drinks, they’re broken down quicker in the mouth, increasing the PH level into an acidic zone—and that’s how it starts. Digestion begins in the mouth with the breakdown of simple sugars which can be found in most of your sweets.
Q: I also heard that you shouldn’t “marinate” your teeth over long periods of time. Is that true?