On any given day, a snorting, gurgling racket can be heard echoing from a dark corner by our garage. The strange creature that spends its day there is Austin, our bulldog. The odor from that area, a combination of skunk and decaying broccoli, may result from his preferred diet of forest grubs and non-recyclable plastic.
I really don’t know. But Austin’s level of repulsiveness pales in comparison to the creatures living in the plaque just inside your mouth. Plaque is the breeding ground for the vilest forms of life. Do you have a nice smile? Not if you have plaque. Greeting someone with a plaque-covered smile is the equivalent of saying, “Hi! Say, it’s so nice to see you and please enjoy the putrid collection of bottom-feeding scum monkeys glued to my teeth.”
Plaque may be the most disgusting substance known. Some day terrorists will discover how to mass produce it and fling it out of giant over head blimps. If the fall out from Chernobyl scared you, just wait until a clump of plaque the size a waffle knocks you to the ground. Oh, but I wax poetic. Let’s stick to the health aspects of plaque.
Plaque is unhealthy. Our excellent local dentist Dr. Joe Reynolds and dental hygienist Norma Ingham describe plaque as a bio-film composed of partially digested food and bacteria. The bacteria’s waste product, acid, slowly eats through tooth enamel to create cavities. Breads, crackers, and candy are made up of simple starches that can be broken down, by an enzyme in your mouth called amylase, into sugar, the perfect food for bacteria. Notice, the next time you lift a donut to your mouth, the sound of billions of plaque bacteria screaming, “Party! Party!”
The frequency of their chanting is far too high for human ears, but not for dogs. This is why your dog jumps up to grab your donut. That’s right, it fears for your dental health and is willing to sacrifice its own…unless it is a bulldog. Bulldogs jump at the donut because they are trying to mate with it.
The very presence of plaque raises the risk of heart disease. They can also have an interesting effect on your breath. These bacteria are anaerobic, i.e. they live without oxygen. Their close, anaerobic, bacterial cousins live in your septic tank. When a poodle metabolizes food, it produces carbon dioxide (odorless) and water. When a bulldog metabolizes……whatever, it apparently produces skunk and broccoli. But when these bacteria metabolize food they make methane and hydrogen (poo-poo) sulfide
Brush regularly to remove plaque. Don’t save it up to celebrate the once-a-year National Plaque Day, because plaque also produces other bacterial toxins damaging to gums. The result is gingivitis and gum recession. As gums recede, teeth become loose, weak and will fall out onto the table (“clink”) often during a very important business dinner. What will you say when your tooth bounces off the table and into your bosses’ martini?
Another consequence of poor dental hygiene is tartar a hard, calcified substance having the consistency of petrified monkey toenails. It is also very harmful to the gums. Tatar is so hard that it has to be removed with a ball peen hammer and a railroad spike. The American Association of Dental Hygienists requires their members to do a dozen finger-tip push ups every night just to maintain the needed strength.
For good dental health brush your teeth after every meal, floss daily, visit your dentist twice a year, and give up the donuts, but not to your dog! Dogs deserve healthy food too … or number 5 plastic as the case may be.