p7 Cleaning the gums.

So there's this film covering the gums. It's not causing inflammation

or infection. But it is stopping the saliva from reaching the gums.

If you stop the gum's access to saliva, its natural medium and friend,

that gum will slowly will break down, becoming inflamed, red and swollen.

This breakdown is slow, painless - with no symptoms. As it gets worse,

the bone becomes inflamed - still no signs. Slowly, the bone starts to

shrink - by the time you notice the tooth seems to be 'longer', at least half

of the 'safe' part of the bone has been lost - and it won't ever re-grow.

Brushing will break up this covering film.

The film doesn't have to be washed away or destroyed. All it needs is the action of a brush (or its equivalent - page13) moving across the surface of the gum to disrupt that film-building process. If this is done once every 24 hours, the film never reaches danger levels. If you break its formation up, the poor old bacteria have got to start all over again. 

But, the most important part of all.

Every area of vulnerable gum must be reached every 24hours!

It's not too difficult when you've understood the next bit.

If you place the brush on a few teeth, you know roughly where you are. But if

you place the brush on a part of the gum, you know exactly where you are.

You can feel the bristles touching the gum, so there's no doubt as to whether

you've cleaned that area or missed it. You can now go round your gums in

whatever pattern you like, contacting every bit of that gum. (Called 'gingivae'.)

But, you must think about what you are trying to achieve

with that brush. And what you must not do with that brush.

If you brush from side to side, you will brush material into the spaces between the teeth - illogical really. But more worryingly, the brush stokes will, in time, push the gums away from the teeth.


(Rocaline's teeth-Feb 2003)


But the bone's the thing.

 If you brush up and down, you brush into the bit of gum at the neck of the tooth.



So you are only left with one possibility - brushing up in one direction (up for the lower teeth and down for the upper teeth). But it is the bone that you are looking after. So you must brush from the border between the reddish bit in the picture and the pink bit upwards. I sometimes tell my patients that I want to keep my teeth so I don't brush them. When I brush like I've just printed above, it is impossible to stop the brush-stroke at the neck of the teeth and so the teeth are cleaned anyway!

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