Perham resident has never had a cavity

By Barbie Porter


Photo by Barbie Porter
Mona Flatau recently celebrated her 50th birthday and another year with no cavities.  

Mona Flatau has achieved a goal that very few 50-year-olds on the planet have achieved. The Perham resident has never had a single cavity.

She is now 44 years away from tying the world record of 94 years of age set by Frank Medina of Stockton, Calif. 

Flatau said her pearl white, cavity-free smile is thanks to her parents, Dale and Linda Flatau of rural Perham. 

“They had dental insurance, which provided a cleaning every six months,” she said. “Not everyone has that opportunity.”

In addition to the ever important bi-annual cleanings, Flatau was also afforded with fluoride treatments. She recommended, whenever possible and in for a cleaning, people request the option as it has proven to protect the enamel on teeth.

“And, if possible, get a sealant,” she said, adding sealants are specifically for molars with no fillings. The sealant prevents particles and other material from getting in the deep pit and grooves of the teeth.

Aside from the dental care that gave her smile a strong chance at staying filling free, Flatau said sugar free gum with xylitol is a great addition to having healthy teeth. Wanting to better explain how xylitol protects teeth, she asked Dentist Carolyn Zunich for a more in depth explanation. In a text, the dentist responded and explained xylitol prevents bacteria from forming.

“Essentially you chew it after meals or use a lozenge throughout the day to clear out the other forms of sugar like lactose or maltose or glucose (all carbs and dairy),” Zunich said. “Then with xylitol presents, bacteria basically starve and cannot digest to produce the dreaded acid that eats your teeth.”

While most people don’t have a dentist on speed dial, Flatau has her connections. She’s been a dental assistant the past 32 years with the last eight being at Dental Associates in Detroit Lakes.

Solid routines of dental hygiene practice also played an enormous roll in Flatau’s cavity-free streak. 

“Brush and floss every morning and every night,” she said. “My favorite toothpaste is Crest Pro Health, but I don’t think the type matters as much as making sure it has fluoride in it.” 

As the years came and went, the only change to her habit was the toothbrush itself. For years Flatau lifted the standard brush in a 45 degree angle and moved it in little circles over her teeth. However, her work presented her with the opportunity to try an automatic brush a few years ago. 

“I haven’t looked back,” she said. “It feels like I am having my teeth cleaned twice a day.”

While Flatau notices a more refreshing feeling, Zunich said when working on teeth she can often tell the difference between a patient that uses a manual brush compared to an automatic one. 

“The ones who use the automatic toothbrushes, their teeth are much cleaner,” Zunich said.

With strong teeth, also comes responsibility. Flatau said sugary sodas and energy drinks are an enemy to strong teeth, especially for those who sip beverages.

“If you’re going to drink those sugary drinks, drink them don’t sip them,” she said, adding those who sip should consider water or her favorite, ice tea. As the constant splash of sugary substance hits the teeth, it will eat away the enamel and allow cavities to creep in.

While Flatau offered sage advice and best practices for habits, she attributes half of her unique accomplishment to simply luck.