When my dentist told me, at age 10, that my teeth would fall out if I didn't floss twice a day, I remember feeling like I had just seen the ghost of John. Despite the fact that my mom assured me the whole ride home that he was mostly joking, that didn't stop me from earnestly adopting the dental hygiene routine of a drill sergeant. Brush twice a day. Floss (or, in my case, Waterpik) like your life depends on it. Wear your retainer diligently, every single night. No excuses.
Which is why it felt particularly unsettling when our beauty director sent me a string of gnarly YouTube videos on Slack late last night, demonstrating people getting their teeth plaque vacuumed off. "Is this the next Pimple Popper?" she asked. I wasn't sure, until I looked them up and found that many of them have more views than Dr. Pimple Popper herself. In fact, if you search "teeth cleaning" (which, maybe you shouldn't), you'll be met with one million videos that look like they could be plucked straight from a horror film. Or a dental hygienist convention.
Manhattan-based Prosthodontist Dr. Mazen Natour, DMD, tells us these are mostly extreme, overdue cases of plaque build-up. "If you noticed, there was a lot of bleeding and the buildup invaded the gum space into the bone, which caused an irreversible gum and bone recession," he says. "In one case shown, the patient will lose her or his teeth — the anterior lower teeth — to the extreme damage done by the plaque and the bone loss that followed."
For anyone following, this is my nightmare. The best way to avoid it? Regularly brushing and flossing — and actually scheduling those cleanings. Dr. Natour says, "Coming every 6 months for a cleaning will avoid build up that gets to this point."
However, if it's just an early Halloween scare you're after, watching these videos over and over again is one hell of a way to do it. Or, maybe the pimple popping (and ear cleaning) fans among us will actually like the sick satisfaction that comes from watching plaque being blown off someone else's teeth. Our only recommendation for both camps? Sound most certainly off.