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Today, Michelle, one of our wonderful hygienists, performed a cleaning on me. She did an excellent job. She was very gentle and thorough.

The reason for this posting is a result of our discussion. While Michelle was doing the cleaning, I asked her what a cavitron is. She said a cavitron is a dental tool that uses high frequency sound waves to clean teeth.

She explained that the cavitron breaks up the plaque layers, which allows her to hand scale the rest of my teeth.

I then asked her what plaque is. She explained that plaque is a type of bacteria that lives in our mouth.

While she was removing my plaque, she instructed me not to swallow the plaque. I was wondering why. She explained that the plaque is the same material that builds up in one’s arteries.

I never made this connection.

She further mentioned that people with severe periodontal (gum) problems are at greater risk of developing heart problems resulting from the plaque growing in their mouths and affecting their heart. This is very interesting and also quite disturbing. The link is called the heart and mouth systemic link.

Even though my father is a dentist, I am often quite skeptical as to the affect dentistry has on other bodily functions. I see the value of cosmetic dentistry, but I did not realize that hygiene and healthy gums were essential to long-term general health.