My Dentist Told Me Off For Using A Baby Toothbrush
I use a baby toothbrush and I’m a very strong advocate of everyone with neuralgia using a baby toothbrush, if they otherwise would not be able to brush their teeth.
My favourite type of toothbrush to use is for toddlers aged three to six years. My dentist does not like this, nor understand why it is a necessity in my life to own one!
I have a chronic pain condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia and that makes it impossible for me to brush my teeth some days. I’ve talked about this more times than I can count. It makes me feel dirty, unclean, embarrassed, upset, but I’m here talking about it, because I want to break the stigma. Whenever something (anything!) touches my teeth – a toothbrush, water, my tongue, the air! – I’m in pain. The level of pain varies day to day, but there’s always at least an ache.. and, at worst, a severe pain that makes me want to pull all my own teeth out. Sometimes, I’m okay to brush my tooth with a soft/medium adult toothbrush. Sometimes, I can’t even touch my teeth with the baby toothbrush, nevermind actually rub bristles against them.
I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and he asked how often I was brushing my teeth. He didn’t believe my ‘twice a day’, until I mentioned the baby toothbrush. He said I wasn’t cleaning my teeth properly and I needed to use an adult toothbrush even if it was uncomfortable.
Boy, I wish neuralgia was only uncomfortable!
I decided to ask what his solution to having neuralgia and needing to properly brush my teeth would be. He said I’d just have to ‘suck it up’. It was also suggested that a soft electric toothbrush might be the answer.. But would the vibrations not be the worst idea in the world?
Sometimes, the dentist doesn’t always know what’s best. I’m doing my best to rely on my adult toothbrush, but brushing my teeth is causing me ridiculous amounts of pain lately. I’m still going to use the baby toothbrush when I have to. It must be better than not being able to brush your teeth at all. The dentist is thinking of my dental hygiene as priority number one, but my priority is also my pain levels and being able to function for work and my general life..
I’m not disabled, I just do things a little differently, because I have to and that’s okay!
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I suggest a different dentist. Having worked in the dental field over 25 years in both public health and private practice settings and with dentists from new grads to near-retirement specialists, I must say the advice from the dentist you encountered defies anything a person should expect. In fact, we often recommended smaller, softer pediatric toothbrushes for patients who had trouble using adult size brushes. The smaller brush is easier to manipulate throughout the mouth and get around back teeth. Many power toothbrushes have compact brush heads for this same reason. A good dentist would also have knowledge of the challenges of trigeminal neuralgia and not suggest things that would cause unnecessary nerve stimulation. If this was your experience, I can only surmise that you have a very poor dentist. Instead of switching to an adult toothbrush, stick with the pediatric one (taking care to cover all the tooth surfaces which may take longer since you are using a smaller tool) and find a better dentist.
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Perhaps you need a new dentist rather than a new toothbrush! A soft toothbrush is better than no toothbrush. I had a dentist tell me years ago, pre my TN diagnosis that some people just get pain like this, and I’d just need to put up with it. Eventually, I saw a dentist who said that the pain was coming from nerves in my face, and sent me back to the doctor. There are good dentists and there are bad ones. I think you might want to find a better one.
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