Friday, May 10, 2013

Amchi Mumbai, Amche Teeth....

Every time I see the commercial with the girl who bites into a green apple, sees blood , and shows it to her father who happens to be a dentist, I have several questions....

When I was her age, first of all, we cut the apple into pieces and shared it. Of course green apples as in the ad, were never available or even seen, and it was always Simla or Kashmir apples for us. Even then, such sightings of blood were rare.

We all grew up, learning to eat sugarcane by peeling the stems with our teeth, and cracking walnut shells by mouth. (Cheating types cracked the shells in the door hinges). We had honest to goodness home made unrefined stuff, organic veggies, and unadulterated milk from animals that didn't take antibiotics. Teeth were brushed  with a dark colored tooth powder, with a terrible taste, and we even chewed some stems.  We dared not turn up our noses at unpopular subjies,  and food was never classified into fast and slow foods. Food was food, period.

Yes, there were occasions where we bled, such as when we scraped or hurt ourselves, had nosebleeds  and so on. These were immediately handled with a slather of turmeric or a holding of an onion at the nose. Sometimes, mixtures were stirred in cast iron vessels,  and a foul looking poultice was applied, causing much humor at school the next day.  The human body had several orifices, and some were designed to handle frequent bleeding.  For all others, there was something that was not right, when the blood happened.

It is a truth, not yet universally acknowledged, that our anatomies are a reflection of the state of the outside world as it exists. In Mumbai.

Think about it.

Thanks to messed up food choices , easy access to dangerous sugars, spoilt air and food quality, limitless auto exhaust, mindless bad construction, and a tendency to cheat for quick returns, our bodies are a replica of Mumbai's roads and living standards.

Frequent potholes, sudden lumps of concrete,  overflowing manholes, clogged drains, and inadequate cleaning and policing staff. Seapages , leakages, and encroachments, abnormally load up, and  weaken structures.  .

Even in your body.

I mean even dogs know the adage "use it or lose it". And here we are,  cutting the crust off the bread pieces, refusing til ladoos because they are hard; I even know someone , who looks disparagingly at an unpeeled orange, and has someone peel it for her, threads and all. Ditto for apples . Naturally,  milk  is abhorred, sunlight is cursed for tanning you, and litres of fast food and colas make their way down a troubled oesophagus.

The teeth watch , eyes full, through sugary films, , and the rot seeps into the gums.

Like the debris that clogs Mumbai's water canals , the rot in the teeth, endeavors to get into the tooth canal too. Like in Mumbai, marauding builder bacteria construct dwellings at will.   And you have problems. Infections, gum disease, abscesses and bleeding.

You can have bleeding in other places too. When you blow your nose, and see a spot of red on the tissue.  Sometimes you brush, and see blood when you spit.   It is even worse, when you throw up and see blood.  Women who are post menopausal, need to be worried when they see blood  and suddenly remember  their younger days.

It isn't blood per se, that is bad. 

It is so, when it appears in the wrong places.  

And then there are several things one can do to prevent that.  Just like we can follow rules to solve Mumbai's problems.

Remember the rat-a-tat of concrete drills on the roads of Mumbai ?  Remember sudden spurts of drains and the plugging ?  Remember wire frames  and verticals that are slathered with cement to create supports ? Road diversions. Temporary bridges.  

I have seen it all happen . In the mouth . Infectious protrusions, Oozing stuff. Cutting into gum flaps. Cleaning under.  Stitching up . Drilling in other places.  Piercing and fine tuning and twirling, with finest needles to clean the canals.  Sometimes external material is required. Sprays of water and air. Temporary and permanent plugs. Bridges. Crowns.  Sometimes even  yanking of troublesome types.

Some solutions for Mumbai might even work for our bodies.   Like using organic , biodegradable items. Not using materials that stick and clog .  Keeping the various flow areas surrounding our dwellings  clean.  Being aware of  abnormalities.  Ensuring that good materials are used for corrective actions by the officials, and ensuring the quality.

And so we need to understand what we eat and drink. Colas may be a fashion statement with 9.13 teaspoons of sugar in a standard can, but you won't be too fashionable in dentures. Don't get taken in by external properties like flavor, taste, smell etc, but read the ingredients.  Avoid ingredients that pretend to mimic estrogens, and fool your bodies into messing up the hormones.  Regardless of what we eat, ensure that you clean the mouth and teeth. Don't go around poking inside your gum because something is stuck.  Like Mumbai's much criticised paver blocks , a mistaken poke may lead to something oozing out or cracking.

Sometimes you may bleed because your blood is very thin, and doesn't coagulate easily. The reason may have something to do with something other than your teeth. Maybe it is some medication you take.  Like Antihistamines, BP medications,  birth control medications, immunosupressants etc. So it helps to ask questions and visit people who can give you answers.  Be informed.

Like in Mumbai, it isn't enough to look posh and spic and span, if you are hiding something dirty.  The insides and all those associated with it must be clean.

Toothpastes like Colgate that make the blood disappear (like in the ad ) in 4 weeks are fine.  But it all works when supported by good food habits.

Like Mumbai, people are today obsessed with looking good, and they forget the root part. Teeth are supposedly related to a beautiful smile, and people go to great lengths to improve upon the Creator. It isn't enough to have a n-storey designer building, if you do not have the legal requirements and a strong foundation.    

So ask the relevant questions . Learn.  The authorities in Mumbai may not answer.

But you doctor and/or dentist will.

Doctors have been known to curse under their breath when they see me.  Some are amused at the questions of an ignoramus, only to realize that there are more questions. It is easy today to check out procedures, pharmaceuticals, anatomy and so on on the Net.  It certainly doesn't make you and expert , but makes you understand things.  It is your body, and you must ask about everything that  qualifies as intake.     

Sometimes,  people observe and imbibe. Like 20 years ago....

The daughter was 9 when she one day woke up with bad pain in the gums.  We tried applying creams, gargling with salt water, icing and so on.   No change.  We called the dentist, and since she was the best person to describe her pain, he asked to speak to her.   He must have asked her if the pain was throbbing pain.  I don't think she knew what that was.

But she ended up telling him , to his complete amazement and entertainment that she had a "heartbeat in the gums".   

It was an infection, and he thought it was an apt description, as he prescribed some antibiotics before doing the requisite treatment.

The Moral of the story is that

(a) Mumbai( of another time), blood, beauty and brains, all begin with a B, and you must look at things in inverse alphabetical order....

(b)  Be well informed and learn about your body. 

It's the only thing that belongs to you for ever.....        

This post being submitted an an entry for the "The Moral of the Story is ... !" contest  organized by Indiblogger and Colgate Total Pro Gum Health .



  1. Great post! You had me enthralled from the very beginning. We tend to take our health for granted until we finally succumb to a virus or bacteria. Aloha from Hawaii!

    1. Gigihawaii, Mahalo ! for the comments and Aloha again!

  2. Will those golden days ever return? will our children ever realize the price they are paying by loading their digestive system with the so called 'fast' food they feast on? Sigh! Sigh again !!

  3. A very nice post which makes one ponder how vulnerable are we to all that marketing gimmick forcing us to adapt them into our lives.

  4. UK... you write straight from the heart !!! I don't know what your age would be, but I resonate with anything and everything of your personal anecdotes !!! Kudos !!!

    1. Thank you! (I am probably old enough to be your mother's age....)