Leah Kinney, RDH, MS
This Arbor Day, we’re looking at gardening and oral health.
I love gardening. There’s just something about digging in the dirt and planting a tiny seed that rows and bears food that is magical to me. Gardening also requires daily maintenance and care, which is why it’s the perfect metaphor for dental hygiene and oral health.
- You have to have a vision
- Gardening requires a great deal of planning: What will you plant? How much space does each plant need? How long until harvest? Gardens also require a great deal of initial work. You have to buy seeds/plants, dig holes, plant the plants/seeds, water, fertilize, and protect the garden from animals and bugs.
- Our mouths are no different! We are meant to keep our teeth for our entire lifetime, but in order to accomplish this, we need to visualize keeping our teeth forever – then execute a plan to do it!
- You have to be willing to do the daily work
- Gardens require a lot of maintenance. If the gardener isn’t careful, weeds will take over and hurt the plants they worked so hard to establish. It’s the same with teeth. They require daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist.
- Have you ever gone a while without weeding your garden, only to find that your beloved tomato plant has been taken over by weeds or bugs? Successful gardens require that the caretaker checks in to see how things are going – much like your dentist does with your teeth every 6 months.
- You get to reap the rewards
- Properly fertilized, watered and weeded gardens will reward the gardener with vibrant plants to admire and nourishing, fresh food for their body. Similarly, proper dental care throughout a lifetime ensures that you will keep your teeth strong and healthy.
- Gum disease and “tooth loss due to age” (PSA – there is no such thing!) are completely preventable. If you brush for 2 minutes twice a day, floss once a day and live to be 80, you will have spent about 175,200 minutes – or about 121 days – brushing and flossing your teeth. That’s just 0.05% of your life spent caring for your teeth – in exchange for a healthy mouth, teeth and gums that make eating and talking possible. Seems reasonable to me!
Leah Kinney is a dental hygienist and the Director of Clinical Business Development at Delta Dental of Minnesota. In her current role, Leah works to educate and empower Minnesotans to take control of their dental hygiene through proper homecare and regular check-ups with their dentist. Leah received her dental hygiene and undergraduate degrees from Argosy University in Eagan, MN and also holds a master’s degree in legal studies from Kaplan University.