p 6 So why do we brush in there?

Forget all those other reasons at the beginning of page 4 for a minute.

(Don't abandon them - some are very valid.)

I think that the most important reason is to delay or prevent TTL (page 2).

Yes - again - T T L. This time I mean the entire tooth - in one piece!

Of course teeth can be lost through accident or injury, or by fracturing too badly after many repairs. When we are young and careless, we may think that nothing but the moment matters - cleaning the teeth and being careful not to eat tooth-rotting stuff is boring, that's for boring adults - so some teeth can be lost through untreated decay. Some more teeth are lost later in life because so many people just don't understand the way that dental decay works (later).

But most adult teeth in the world are lost for none of these reasons. When

they are lost, most are in near perfect condition. I'm glad that adult tooth

fairies live in Never-Never Land because a sight of their tooth mountain

must be really depressing! Sorry - Scottish humour.

Our teeth are held in bone.

If you want to keep your teeth for life, you have to look after the bone.

The teeth are not attached directly to the bone of the jaws but are attached to this highly-specialized bone by very short stiff fibres. (This is handy because when I have to take one out, I sometimes make hardly any mess at all. And this impresses the patient! Mind you, it often looks a lot easier than it really is!)

This 'suspended' feature allows the tooth a little bit of 'give' when you eat something hard. If you take a healthy tooth between finger and thumb you should be able to move it very slightly - if it doesn't, don't worry about it. And leave your crowns alone - your dentist hates recementing them!

But you can't look after the bone, can you? You can't see it, feel it, get to it?

Thankfully, no. Bone, open to saliva or air, dies.

You can get to and see some of, and feel all of, the gum which overlies the bone.

If the gum is perfectly healthy, the bone will stay perfectly healthy. But if you allow the gum to become inflamed, eventually the bone underneath starts to shrink - there's no pain, no sign, no change of feeling. If that bone shrinkage goes too far, the teeth are lost. Good-looking, healthy, natural teeth (or crowned or bridged teeth, or implants) are lost.

So the secret of keeping the teeth is to stop the bone shrinking. So,


I don't clean my teeth - I clean my gums because I want to keep my teeth.

This bit 'rings a bell', doesn't it? Look again at the dark blue bit on page5

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