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Smile My Pretty: Save the Ruby Red for Dorothy

What do you do when you notice someone’s teeth are pink?

I am at a restaurant talking to a server and notice that her teeth are pink. Maybe it is lipstick? I’m sorry, I can’t turn off my dental brain and I have to ask, “Did you know your teeth are pink?” She is embarrassed and immediately put her hand to her mouth. She said, “I have (Trade Name) clear aligners and I don’t have money to go to the dentist.”

I wish I could teach people to listen to their body.

I’m sad and I don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable but I’m probably not the first person to notice. Healthy gums are pink, not red, and they don’t bleed. This woman is in her early twenties and it’s obvious that she cares about her looks enough to want straight teeth, otherwise she wouldn’t bother. When the clear aligners are placed, they scrape the infected gums, and bleed into the tray.

Many people say they are afraid of blood so they don’t floss. If people only knew that the blood is a warning sign that the gums need attention, more flossing and brushing, not less. When caught early and with regular care this is usually pretty easy to fix. The body is telling us what it needs and the mouth is a part of an entire system.

When you hear the word “treatment” or “care,” do you subconsciously hear “treatment by a professional”? I think treatment is about self-care, caring about one’s self, there are beauty treatments all over the store aisles. Flossing and brushing keep teeth clean and healthy, and getting one’s self to the dentist, is accepting help from a professional to reach the places that you can’t and let you know if something needs attention. I’m always curious about what stops people from taking care of themselves. Only 30% of people floss their teeth every day. At least 37% don’t floss at all.

My colleagues and I work hard to put beauty into a smile, healthy gum makes a lovely arc around the tooth. In study club we are looking for ways to restore a person’s smile back to health. Healthy gums are a certain range of color and form.

With damaged or missing teeth, receding or red swollen gums, tooth infections, there is pain, difficulty chewing, … and embarrassment. We talk, we laugh, we cry. Most people are watching our face when we communicate. We are social and expressive beings and to limit that and hide behind a hand or put your face down limits our full experience of life.

A beautiful smile is balanced, It has vitality and it projects health. Don’t let the bacteria be the wicked witch, that take the pretty from your smile. Ruby red slippers are great, ruby red gums are not. Those red bleeding gums could be telling you to watch out for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease too. Be pretty in pink, pink healthy gums, that is.

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