p 4 So why do people clean teeth?

To make them look good? To take the food off them in case they decay?

To have fresh breath? To get rid of the plaque?

I suppose it's a mixture of all of these.

But if the reasons are as vague as this, how can one do a thorough job?  Take that last one - the plaque one. Most people think of plaque as a sticky mix of food debris and bacteria which, if left in the mouth, causes tooth decay and gum disease.

But there's a problem with this. Plaque, in the cared-for mouth, is hard to see, harder to feel, so how does a person know if it's there or not, or if they've got it all off?

So if you clean as thoroughly as you can for 10 minutes (that'll be the day) three times a day, and you miss one wee bit every time because you don't know if it's there or not, you are going to lose teeth - and that's a fact!

Here's another problem.

Our bodies and body cavities are covered with bacteria - millions of them. The ones that are there all the time do us no harm at all. In fact, because they are there, they make it harder for incoming infective bacteria to survive. So if we use chemical agents to destroy the bacteria in plaque, we must be destroying the 'good' bacteria as well. If we use bacteria-destroying mouthwashes to simply make our mouths feel fresh 'n' clean, we must be destroying all our 'protecting bacteria'. So that makes us more vulnerable to infections.

(Specific anti-bacterial mouthwashes have an important role in destroying particular organisms at specific times, decided upon by the dental professional.)

Here's yet another problem.

To defeat the evil plaque, it must presumably be destroyed on sight. If it is that evil and it is left on the teeth at all, it must be doing damage all the time. It forms continuously so it must be cleared away every, say, ten minutes or so, and thoroughly too. Of course, this is impractical.

Most people then do "the best they can" with brushing teeth 1, 2 or 3 times a day, or even after every meal, perhaps using anti-bacterial mouthwashes, without any clear idea of what they need to achieve.

How would an athlete perform if he couldn't recognise the finishing line? How could he manage his training, improve his performance? (Athlete to aspiring youngster: "Running? You just run round and round, as fast as you can, hoping that you get to the finishing line first, wherever that is.") Our youngsters need goals too!

Have a rest here -

let your mind wander to far-off places,

take the camera of your mind,

let it take in the wonder of life.

 Marco Polo 700 years ago

Contemporary Scottish Architecture: R.I.A.S.

Grizzly Bears

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