In this article, we hope to share with you what we consider to be a very profound process to help you navigate not only to greater oral health but to improved whole body health as well. In fact, without this relatively simple step, any efforts we take to create positive change in our oral health could literally do nothing or even lead us in the wrong direction.
This step is to have clearly defined feedback mechanisms. What we mean by a feedback mechanism is some external way we can determine if what whatever action we have taken is helping or not. For example, let’s say you or your child has a raspberry scratch on their knee from falling onto the sidewalk. The abrasion forms a nice scab over the wound. Through visual assessment, we can determine if the scab is healing well or if it needs further cleaning based on us keeping an eye on the scab to look for signs of infection like any pus buildup or discoloration around the scab. If it were more serious, we may want to keep track on a calendar what day the injury happened as well as any notes along the way regarding our observations of the healing, etc. In this way, if the injury didn’t seem to be healing on its own and we felt the need to get medical attention, we would have good notes to accurately hand to the professional help we went to seek. These notes would provide the physician a good starting point so that they could more efficiently determine the best course of treatment to speed the healing.
When it comes to oral health, one essential feedback mechanism to help each of us create positive change is what we call ‘conscious flossing’. By conscious flossing, we mean to focus on the job of flossing and use the floss as a feedback mechanism. To floss consciously, cut a string of floss about 18″ long. It’s important to use a string long enough that you can use a clean segment of floss at each contact point. In this way, you can determine if there is any active infection between the two teeth you just flossed around. Simply floss between two teeth and consciously look at the floss for any blood or other signs of infection. These will show up as red, pink or yellowish colors. If you are brave 🙂 and really want to use this opportunity to gain maximal information, smell the floss too. If you get a malodor, this is another sign of active infection. So, simply by bringing more attention to the act of flossing, we can gain much insight into what’s going on in our mouths.
Many of you are familiar with a crucial feedback tool we offer for free on OraWellness.com. Our OraWellness Mouth Map provides a unique self-observation tool of what’s currently going on in your mouth. It takes 20 minutes for anyone who has the interest to create positive change in their oral health to fill out the mouth map. In this way, they have a dated record of their findings. While we consider the records from a dental visit helpful for each of us to navigate to greater oral health, the empowerment that comes from an individual taking notes of what they find in their own mouth is vastly more helpful than the notes of a dentist when it comes to each of us applying our own efforts to create positive change in our own oral health.
The power of this feedback mechanism really kicks in when a person fills out the OraWellness Mouth Map, dates it, then chooses to do some action for a specified period of time. For example, let’s say you fill out your mouth map on April 1st. On your mouth map, you found 8 spots in your mouth that bled when flossed as well as a handful of spots that had sensitivity on the roots. Then you decide that you are going to apply some protocol like simply brushing and flossing daily with our HealThy Mouth Blend. After 30 days, you fill out another mouth map and date it. Now you can compare the two dated mouth maps (get feedback) and see if the number of bleed points and points of sensitivity has increased, decreased or stayed the same. From these two records, you will clearly see whether your actions of the past month have helped you navigate to greater oral health or not.
We can use this one feedback mechanism, the OraWellness Mouth Map, several times in a row to separate those actions we think are helpful from the actions that are actually helpful and produce results for us. Continuing on with our example above, maybe your first mouth map uncovered 8 spots in your mouth that bleed when flossed. So you choose to brush with our healthy mouth blend and use the Bass brushing technique (or oil pulling or whatever strategy you want to implement) daily for a month. You fill out another mouth map and find that the number of bleed points has reduced to only 2 spots between molars. From this, you can determine that using the techniques over the last month helped to reduce the stress throughout your mouth and that you still need to ramp up more help between molars. So, for the next month, you choose to include flossing daily with the HealThy Mouth Blend on your floss to increase the support between your molars. At the end, you may find that you have zero bleed points. Thus the power of using feedback mechanisms over time.
Another way to track one’s oral health improvement over time is to take dated photos of areas you want to watch. For example, let’s say you have a spot that seems to have some gum recession going on. You aren’t sure if the recession is worsening, has stopped or is even restoring. By taking monthly photos of the area and saving them on your computer, you can have a visual track record that will provide you the feedback necessary to see whether the actions you are taking are helping or not. Using photos is a very powerful way to also see the change of coloration of gum tissue when undertaking a power restorative strategy like that taught in our HealThy Mouth System. In this way, you can literally see the changes from unhealthy gum tissue colors of dark red with swollen tissues to a healthy pink color and healthy tissue texture.
Please consider following this link to an article we wrote which will talk you through the process of filling out the OraWellness Mouth Map. It’s a very powerful process and tends to bring a sense of relief from exposing the unknown. After all, much of any fear we have is fear of the unknown. Taking a 20-minute date with your mouth is a cheap investment of your time for the amount of stress that can be removed simply by knowing what’s going on in our own mouth.
How about you? What do you do to provide yourself feedback whether your actions are taking you in the direction you want to go?
As always, please share this article with your loved ones if you find benefit from the read.
In the next article in this series, we share another powerful feedback tool we have found great benefit using to help us continue on our path to optimal oral and whole body health.
Also, feel free to download our FREE Guide to Safe Dentistry, which explains what questions to ask to find a dental team who will work with you on your journey to greater oral health.
Thank you and Aloha!