Module 1: Toothbrushing
For oral health there are 3 vital things to know about tooth brushing:
- Use a clean toothbrush (every time you brush your teeth).
- Know the objective (it may not be what you think).
- Use a well-designed brush (Bad brushes create problems).
Use a clean toothbrush (every time you brush your teeth)
Many people are careless about the care of toothbrushes. They throw them on the vanity in a pool of water and maybe with a bunch of other brushes. Some are stored in travel bags, in moldy showers, or even in gym bags and vehicle glove compartments. Ugh!
Few people know that huge numbers of mouth bacteria are picked up on a toothbrush every time we brush (even the first time you brush with a new brush!) Continuously buying new brushes is not a good answer, and there is a better way to ensure your brushes are clean every time you brush.
Cleaning Your Toothbrush
Toothbrush bristles provide a low oxygen space where bacteria picked up from your saliva and your teeth during brushing, can easily multiply and become more aggressive. Never store your toothbrush under a cover, or in a bag or confined space where there is less oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria are some of the worst oral bacteria and are associated with rapid cavities and serious periodontal disease. Some of the worst bacteria were discovered when people stored their brushes in covered boxes, even though the brushes were under an ultraviolet light inside the box.
The most important fact is to know that bacteria will die if they dry! Use this information and the results of studies that tested different brands of toothbrushes and discovered that you clean a brush if you let it dry for 24 hours between uses. The brush needs air circulation around the bristles, but then it will then be free of live bacteria. Now you will need a brush for the morning and another for the night etc. Also, if you have the time and opportunity after brushing, it is a good idea to swirl the bristles of your brush in a few drops of an essential-oil mouthwash (like Listerine). This loosens debris and bacteria from the bristles, and you can rinse your brush clean under running water and then let it dry. This extra step would be good for anyone who is sick or has a poor immune system, and for anyone fighting cavities, active periodontal disease, after oral surgery, or the placement of new implants in your mouth.
Storing Your Toothbrush
Always store your brush standing on its handle – bristles upwards – so they can air dry easily – preferably in cup or holder – in a sunny window and away from any damp areas, mold, or the flush plume from a toilet. There are various brush holders that allow you to store brushes in this way and today you can even find small suction cups that work as individual brush holders – which is a fun and convenient idea– especially for families or situations where several people share a small brushing space. Remember you can be creative if necessary and brush your teeth in the kitchen if you have difficult bathroom conditions. In the same way, it may be best in some situations to store your brush in a bedroom away from damp areas or possible contamination.
When you travel, do not take your toothbrush from home but instead purchase one or more brushes to use as disposable and throw them away each time you move from place to place. Inexpensive brushes usually get too soft to be effective after a week or two – but in a travel situation, this probably will not matter.
Generally, I think we should replace our toothbrushes every 3 months (when they are used once a day), but you should consider buying a new brush more frequently (maybe new each month) for the first 3 months as you begin to fight cavities or gum disease. You don’t want to take any chances and this is a small investment compared with the dental treatments you will avoid!
Know the objective (Hint: it may not be what you think)
The main purpose of tooth brushing is not to clean your teeth, but to massage your gums. When you adjust to this thinking and try this approach, the improvement in the health of your teeth and gums will be amazing. The idea is to stimulate a flow of lymphatic liquids and blood circulation in your gums. These are liquids that provide nutrients to the gum tissues to help combat infection and also remove bacterial debris from the area. Unless you massage your gums the infection and irritation will remain stagnant and the gum tissue will puff up, bleed, and become loose around your teeth.
The best way to heal bleeding gums is to massage them with a clean and well-designed brush, use my Complete Mouth Care System, and eat xylitol mints and gum after meals. Bleeding should stop in about 3-4 days as the gums heal.
The best way to stop gum recession (and allow it to heal naturally) is to massage the gums above the area of recession on every side of the teeth involved. Stop flossing in this area and ensure you are using good oral care products that do not harm your gums. (NO peroxide or baking soda, or whitening products). Sensitivity in this area of recession should improve in a few weeks but it may take months for healing.
Any time your toothbrush is pink with blood after you brush, or if your recession is not improving, consider reading more about the 4-Keys to Oral Health – which will give you ways to improve your oral health through diet and nutrition.
Never avoid gum massage because you have receding gums
or if brushing makes your gums bleed!
The solution to receding and bleeding gums is
adequate gum massage with a good, clean brush!
Use a well-designed brush (bad brushes create problems)
Mid-way through my career I became acutely aware of the importance of gum massage and the need for a good toothbrush to achieve dental health improvements. This was before the advent of battery or powered brushes, which I think have helped lazy brushers, and people with no interest in caring for their teeth. Power brush heads are small and access difficult areas in the mouth, and luckily create some vibrational gum massage. I am not opposed to these brushes if you have one, although the heads can become easily infected – so check out my recommendations for cleaning, storing and travel – which is particularly important for power toothbrush users. You don’t need a power brush to have a healthy mouth. I personally do not use one and generally do not recommend them because they become so easily infected due to the design of their brush heads.
I look for toothbrushes that do not become too soft during use, or too soon after they have been purchased. They need to last for about three months if they are used once a day.
If you have a small or difficult shape jaw for brushing your teeth, consider an experiment with the PRESERVE toothbrush – which has a reverse-shape handle and is a nice and unusual brush made from recycled yogurt cups. The FUCHS Record V brush feels very good and the nylon version is great for gum massage. This German oral care company marketed the benefit of the brush’s V-shaped bristles, as early as the 1950’s. The FUCHS Record V toothbrush continues to be a wonderful brush.
My #1 pick is Dr. Plotka’s MOUTH WATCHER’S brush, which is soft, but firm enough.This brush can give your gums a wonderful massage with its feathery toothbrush ends. The brush comes in lots of colors so it is easy to have a yellow one for the morning, and blue one at night if you wish to do that! Best of all, I have noticed over several years the amazing results when this brush is added to my other recommendations for oral care. In other words it is effective: So, keep it clean, use it well, and ENJOY your results!
Here are my three toothbrush recommendations (with links to purchase):
- Dr. Ron Plotka’s MOUTH WATCHERS brush (Adult and Youth sizes)
- The PRESERVE toothbrush
- The FUCHS V toothbrush