Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A short history of brushing teeth

Once upon a time, life was simple and my mother taught me to brush my teeth by making firm horizontal strokes with a tooth brush. Not long after, in Kindergarten, two cartoon characters Snoeptand and Appeltand (Candytooth and Appletooth) taught me to make little circular movements with the brush, to reach all nooks and crannies of my young teeth. Later, the dentist taught me to move up and down, pressing firmly on the gums. I have seen it all.

About ten years ago, the deplorable state of my teeth forced me to a dental hygienist who asked me to demonstrate my brushing regime, only to respond with a compassionate "Tsk, we haven't done it this way for decades" The newest craze was the Bass method, where the brush is pushed onto the gums at a 45 degree angle, and moved horizontally, supported by triangular toothpicks and tiny little interdental brushes.

My Canadian dentist gave me a Sulcabrush, which is a relatively hard pointy brush to clean teeth where they sink into the gums. Now, this was a marked improvement. Until I started using the Sulcabrush, my gums were bleeding every now and then, but after a few hard days, during which my gums bled daily, they ended finally up in a much better shape, where they were no longer sensitive or bleeding.

Today I paid my dentist another visit, for another lecture on tooth brushing. Horizontal brushing is bad for your enamel. You're supposed to start on the gums with a little vibration, and to finish with a vertical wipe, away from the gums. Looks like I have been abusing my teeth for over ten years, and the session was concluded with the message that a grand total of three cavities need to be treated.

Next trend will probably be diagonal brushing. Mark my words.

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