Color My World

This morning a new blog was born and if you would like to share the moments I have with my grandson you can go to and read my latest entries. That said, before I got the self proclaimed “brilliant” idea to start a blog about my grandson I was thinking about something else altogether. The many colors of a healthy human body.

In dentistry, we look at the color of your gingiva, aka gums, to determine health and perhaps that is where I started looking at colors in the human being. Red gums indicate inflammation and there are even shades of red that we, the dental practitioners, see when we look in your mouth. Cyanotic, red gums are not only inflammed from lack of flossing or general bad oral hygiene the bluish tone of cyanotic red gums indicates an underlying infection called periodontal disease.

Marginal redness, a redness that occurs within the first 3 mm of gingival tissue,  usually indicates the presence of bacteria that are literally pooping acids on to your gingival tissues and causing them to possibly bleed and become puffy. Rosy Pink gingiva is generally healthy tissue indicating lack of bacterial plaque, no inflammation and overall health of the body.  A too light pink might be indicative of anemia and a blood test would be in order.

The only time that darker gingiva is not abnormal is in people with darker pigmented skin. Their gums are pigmented as well and the darkness does not denote dental dis-ease.

Color is just so revealing that I think I have become acutely aware of the various human colors in my world. If a person presents as florid and flushed there is something going on. If female she may be having hot flashes but often it is Rosecea and while the causes are debatable there is something off if you are suffering the redness and irritation of Rosacea. The medical community dismisses it but puts you on antibiotics to “treat” the condition. We all know how good antibiotics are for our gut, (not) and how important gut health is to your overall condition. The other causes of overt redness is heart disease and alcoholism.

The color I am most sensitive to is the greenish tinge that people get when their liver is under stress. Your liver is one big sieve for cleaning out the poisons are bodies deal with daily and when it becomes overwhelmed humans will take on a jaundiced patina. It has happened that patients will come in to our office and I will comment to my Reiki healer Donna, on the jaundiced appearance and voice my concern (to her and not to the patient). She can feel chaos and emotions as they come through the door but color isn’t her thing and she always look at me askance but never seems to doubt what I am seeing.

A few years ago at my sister-in-law’s funeral my brother and I were looking at photos of her taken just a month before her death sentence was pronounced by the Mayo Clinic, terminal pancreatic cancer. In the photo she was smiling and summer tanned but she had that telltale green to her skin and I was the only one who noticed it but now she was dead.

At the time it made me sad. When she first complained of terrible “acid reflux” or asked if it could be an ulcer (around the time of the photo I had been looking at) had her Michigan doctors noticed that green tinge to her skin perhaps they would have delved in to it more thoroughly thus giving her a few more months. Instead they took x-rays of her esophagus to rule out ulcer and put her on Prevacid or some such thing and sent her home.

I am not saying there was a cure I am just saying she might have had more time had someone thought to check her pancreatic health at that stage because as the disease progresses your liver cannot keep up with the poisons in your system thus the coloration of your skin. If there is one thing we know about pancreatic cancer it’s that it is often caught too late, that is why its victims are usually dead within weeks or months of their dreaded diagnosis.

How about the color gray? Hair might turn gray, clouds are gray but skin should not be gray or ashen. People with heart disease often have ashen skin color due to low oxygen circulation. You will see this tone in older folk’s skin and maybe that is normal given their advanced age or health but someone 90 and under should not be ashen unless they just had surgery and are deep in their recovery.

We can’t run up to people and exclaim loudly that they aren’t a healthy color. What you can do is look in the mirror. Are you jaundiced, are the sclera of your eyes yellow? Do you have a gray pallor? Or do you have lots of pinpoint red spots on your face in the area of the bridge of your nose? Look at your gingiva in a bright light do they appear stippled (grapefruit skin appearance), pink and are the papilla (the pink part between your teeth) sharply pointed between teeth? (Note: in the above gingiva link #3 is not unhealthy that is the pigmentation of a person with darker colored skin)

Take care of all the colors that are you and look for my next blog entry on Friday the 23rd. It is a slightly altered holiday schedule but I have a great recipe to share with you for Christmas morning.



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