I went to the dentist this morning. Don’t worry, no cavities. But I did do some interesting eavesdropping. There was an older man (not sure how old, but I’d guess at least 70) in the chair next to me, separated by a wall. His hygienist was new to the practice, replacing a woman who had been there for a long time, so there was a lot of ‘getting to know you’ conversation. It was clear that his dental hygiene was a little bit lacking, and his gums bled a fair amount during the cleaning. She asked if he brushed twice a day, and he said “I’ll lie to you the same thing as I did to [the old hygienist], yes!”. So she tried to tell him that brushing twice a day will solve those problems, and started saying how there’s a strong link between problems with oral health and a myriad other diseases.
At this point he cut her off and said that he disagreed. His theory (in his words) was that when he was growing up nobody wore gloves while they were serving food, and nobody got sick from it. He thinks that if you sanitize things too much then we won’t build up any immunities.
Now, I agree that the microbiome is important, and keeping an active culture of bacteria in our systems is critical to our well-being. But it’s not like she was asking him to gargle bleach to kill everything in his mouth…she just said “brush twice a day”. I wonder if he washes his hands when he uses the bathroom, or handles raw chicken.
I also wonder why it’s not worth 30 seconds to do a crappy job of brushing his teeth twice a day, but it’s worth going in to the dentist for a full cleaning/checkup twice a year.