p 5 So let's think of the problem in a different way.

Forget about plaque. It's a disgusting sound of a word and I

certainly wouldn't like to have it in my mouth. I like to think of

my mouth as a healthy, wholesome place, an absolute

delight to behold!

The Film.

Those naturally - occurring bacteria, living in there, protecting us from evil stranger bacteria. They live on products we eat and the oxygen we breathe. Eventually, after about 36 hours, the end result is a mixture of live and dead bateria (like anywhere else on the inside or outside of our bodies and those of our pets.) This mixture forms a thin adherent film, covering over our throat, roof of the mouth, lips, cheeks, tongue, teeth and gums.

Well, it would if we just sat there unmoving all the time. But when we eat or drink or speak (or sing in the shower), it is knocked or washed off the throat, the roof of the mouth, lips, cheeks, tongue and most of the teeth.

But the curvature of the teeth shields some areas, so that some film remains on the necks of the teeth and those bits of the gum near the teeth. Think of this film as just a cover - not infecting, not evil, just a cover. If it is left there, it does not normally infect the teeth or gums.

BUT.

Let's look at the skin on the back of your hand. Suppose you put a piece of sticking plaster there and leave it for a couple of days. What happens? The skin puckers up, doesn't it? Because skin works in contact with air. The plaster denies access to the air, so it starts to break down.

If you deny the gum access to saliva, its natural medium, it too will break down, becoming inflamed and swollen.

Look at your lower gum. The bit nearest the teeth is tightly attached to the bone underneath by short tough fibres. That's why, if it's really healthy, it looks finely dimpled. It needs to be tough to withstand eating pressures but it doesn't need to move - so it doesn't need a big blood supply. So it should be pink and finely dimpled.

If it is mainly pink but the bit next to the tooth is slightly redder (or bigger), then that part of the gum is probably inflamed. It's inflamed because that film cover has not been regularly removed and the gum has been denied access to saliva.

Now look at any other gum you can see. If it's healthy, it should all be a uniform dimpled pink colour right up to where it meets the tooth.

That's pink for pink people. Many people have different skin colours and of course different gum colours to match - there is still a lot pink because we all have a red blood supply. Trinidadians have lots of grey/black areas in the gum, Nigerians have brown/black bits and there are a myriad of other colours in every people of the world. But whatever the colour, we all have something in common - the pink dimpling in me and the any- other-colour dimpling in anyone else should go right up to the teeth.

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