Friday, 12 September 2014

The tooth's BFF (1) - Toothbrush

How mighty may a bristle and a thread be? David's sling hurled Goliath to the ground. But that was a sling. This is one thread called "floss" and a tuft of bristles called "toothbrush" we are talking about. This is you as David we are talking about - holding the thread and bristles in your hand daily morning, looking sleepily into a mirror. Wait. Are we talking about those tiny germs that you can't even see as Goliath? Goliath may as well have fallen himself on reading this!

As colossal as Goliath?

 Here is what you need to know about your first dental buddy - the toothbrush. 
  1. Your toothbrush is important. A quick finger rub over your teeth is not an alternative. It may be quick, but it only cleans your finger - not your teeth. Rinsing before going to bed, just because you will anyways brush the next morning, is not an alternative either. While sleeping, you make less saliva which makes your teeth more prone to decay. Using a mouthwash in the hope that some fancy chemical in it, whose name no one understands, will kill the germs is also not an alternative. The germs deposit a thin layer of plaque on your teeth that can only be removed by your toothbrush. 
  2. Select a soft to medium brush. Ultra-soft bristles are for sensitive teeth and will lack cleaning effectiveness, while hard bristles will damage your teeth. 
  3. Select a smaller sized brush. Smaller head brushes will reach till the last tooth and even its back surface. They will clean better if your teeth are crowded. On the flip side, it will take you longer to brush all the teeth with a small brush. If your last molars (wisdom teeth) are incredibly difficult to reach, you may keep two brushes - a small children's brush for the last ones, and a regular sized for other teeth. So much talk about children not having wisdom!
  4. Do not overdo it. Brushing two times is good enough. Brushing after every meal is not usually necessary because if your meal had any acidic or citric foods, your teeth will be softer for sometime and get damaged by brushing. But make sure to rinse after every meal. Even if nothing acidic, it may have had broccoli!

  5. Be a little possessive of your friend. Don't let it kiss someone else's friend in the toothbrush stand. Or you will be sharing each other's enemies (read germs!)
  6. I used the word "little". If you try to encase the brush or brush head in a thick walled prison, a certain kind - and a very bad kind - of germs will be happily growing on the bristles, waiting for a riot to happen the next time you use it. 
  7. So how to keep it? Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing and keep it in an upright position to dry, facing away from other toothbrushes; or the toothbrush case should have some vent holes in it to allow air and moisture through.
  8. Renew your friendship. Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months or when its bristles start fraying. If the bristles start to fray in less than 2 months, either you have evolved to have more than 32 teeth - or more likely are overdoing it. If they are as new even after 4 months, do you care for your friend? In case you get cold, sore throat or ulcers in your mouth, change your toothbrush once you are healthy again as your toothbrush will be carrying those germs still. 
  9. Toothbrush design - criss-cross bristles, zig-zag bristles, multicolored bristles, circular bristles, magical bristles! A toothbrush is only as good as the hand holding it. If the brushing technique is good, even plain flat bristles can take down Goliath. In India, neem twigs were used and still continue to be used in some parts as a toothbrush. And the brushing was very effectively done by chewing on those twigs. 
  10. Making new friends. Powered or electric toothbrushes are becoming common today. They are as effective and thorough in cleaning teeth as the manual ones, and sometimes even more fun. They are especially suitable for those with limited dexterity, as happens with age and special needs. For children who avoid brushing, they are a good way to get them into the habit.
 Your tooth's BFF - Brush, Floss and Fluoride. These friends are there to keep you from getting cavities, bleeding gums and bad breath caused by germs or microbes.

Your tooth's covering called enamel is the hardest thing in the body. It takes us dentists the hardest things known to man - diamond and carbide to drill through it. Teeth last centuries of burial and burn after death, and teeth are sometimes the only thing left of a body for identification.These teeth get damaged and destroyed by cavity causing microbes in a matter of few months. Now, isn't that being more gigantic than Goliath?


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