Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Genetic Lottery

I have crooked teeth and poor vision. I'm doomed to have varicose veins and to bruise easily. Once I brought my Grandma with me to an OBGYN visit during my first pregnancy and described all my aches and pains to the doctor. Grandma said that I got them all from her. I was not blessed with superb athletic skills. Actually, I think I have a legitimate problem with hand-eye coordination, since I've never actually caught a ball unless by accident and I continue to fall down stairs on a regular basis. But one thing I did win the genetic lottery on is the strength of my teeth and gums (even though they may be crooked).

I've never been super about brushing my teeth, I really dislike flossing, and I have a monster sweet tooth. But I have never had a cavity. Throughout high school, I drank at least one can of Mountain Dew a day, something a dentist once told me is right up there with altoids at being the biggest cause of cavities. I did not inherit this from my mom, who brushes and flosses immediately after each meal because her teeth are so sensitive to cavities. Since Chris, a devoted tooth-brusher, recently went to the devil's dentist and had 10 fillings, I was anxious to see if I also had cavities--we obviously eat a lot of the same things and have adopted similar habits over the course of 4 1/2 years together. (He has since not missed a single day of flossing)

Today I saw a different dentist, going on the recommendation of a satisfied friend (which I'm learning is always a good idea). They were apalled by my account of the first dentist and assured me that we were right not to go back. I brought home two goodie bags, one for the semi-annual visit and one for being a new patient. These are my spoils: three toothbrushes (one for each family member), three packages of mint flossing stick thingys (3 in each), two containers of cinnamon floss, two travel size samples of toothpaste, a full-sized tube of toothpaste, a water bottle, a tube of Barry Family Dental Group lip balm, a pocket-sized mirror in a convenient case, a bag of M&Ms (so that I have to go back), and a pocket-sized 2008 monthly calendar. Plus, since I had a coupon from the referring friend, I got the fluoride treatment for free, and they said she would also get a free gift. And of course, I brought home the news that I don't have any cavities. I feel like such a cheater!

Perhaps this is a lesson to me that if I'm sweet enough and have a horrible enough experience to tell, I will get really nice service? (Maybe I should try this the next time we eat out...) In actuality, I don't think my horrific account of the first dentist had anything to do with all the loot--it's standard procedure. The only thing "extra" that I don't think they would have already given me was a second adult sized toothbrush for Chris, since he obviously didn't get one for free.

Incidentally, the rate of fluoridation in public water is very closely related to the incidence of cavities. A few years ago, I saw a dental hygenist who could tell from simply looking at my teeth that I had grown up drinking fluoridated water. Sure enough, Illinois is the 2nd ranked state in the nation for the percentage of people on public water systems receiving fluoridated water. Utah is 50th. Check out the list to see how your state ranks.


Sarah K said...

I so wish I had good teeth. That is a wonderful one to win in the lottery!

Ruthie A. said...

Jenny, I found your blog!

We must be related, since hearing you describe yourself reminds me of myself to a tee. Although I must admit, I do have one cavity.

Angela said...

Mark and I once went to a dentist who said we each had several cavities and several more future cavities that should be treated ASAP. He kindly offered us a generous rate and even a monthly payment plan. Fortunately, we then changed jobs and insurance. Several months later we went to a new dentist who said neither of us had any cavities at all!!!!!!!