"An apple a day ... " Can you complete that saying? Most people can. It is so much a part of our upbringing, but how does it affect our behaviour? An apple a day keeps the doctor away. There are so many sayings that are intended to help us like this. Another one is "A stitch in time saves nine". What are they saying and do we live our life in a way that shows that we value this way of thinking?
This gets down to a discussion about our habitual patterns of behaviour. It can explain why we might make the same mistake over and over again. We know what we should do, how we should behave, but we don't do what we know we should. Why is that? We all have our habitual patterns of behaviour that have been ingrained into our subconcious minds by repetition from the time we were born. Our parents, teachers, past experiences, all contribute to help create our way of acting and behaving. These behaviours don't always serve us well, yet even though we know that, it is very difficult to do something about it and change.
I have patients who routinely say to me, "well, I don't floss as much as I should". I always wonder, "if you know that you should floss more, why don't you?" There is no judgement intended here. I am just really curious as to why we humans behave the way we do, and why we don't change those behaviours that are not good for us?
Coming back to the opening statement that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" ... what would we do if this were really true? I heard someone on Youtube the other day and he said, "they don't say 'a Hershey a day keeps the doctor away'. " Some people might say that they eat a Hershey a day and they are doing just fine thank you very much. But I wonder what the cost of a habit like a daily Hershey bar, or 2 or 3 cans of Coke a day would be after 6 years, or 10 years. What is the cost of a sedentary life-style for 20 years, or a fast food diet for 10-15 years.
This leads me to think about the value of prevention. In dentistry, we are very big on the idea of prevention. Tooth decay can be prevented, gum disease can be prevented or minimized, poor bites and jaw development can be prevented if caught early enough. Even the idea of treating a cavity while it is small rather than waiting for it to get bigger. It means less time in the dental chair, less destruction to the tissues of your tooth, less cost, avoiding such things as root canal treatment, crowns, and more complex dental procedures.
How can we minimize the impact of our poor choices and choose the "right" thing to do? It is not easy, but first we must take the time to think about what we really want, then determine what actions we will need to take to reach our goal, making a DECISION to pursue the goal, and then COMMITTING to it with all of our enthousiasm and whole heartedly with self-discipline and passion.
Next time I will discuss a new pre-orthodontic system that can help prevent orthodontic tooth related problems in growing children without the use of braces. This system is really not about the teeth. It is really about developing health in our growing children ... creating open airways, proper sleep breathing habits, good posture, proper tongue and lip function, and excellent swallowing patterns.
There is still much work to be done, and much to learn, but it is very possible to create healthy mouths and maintain them that way throughout life. All it takes is the desire and commitment to do it.
Yours for better health,
Dr. Marty Frankel - Smiles by Design
3030 -3080 Yonge Street,
Toronto, ON M4N 3N1