Word of Appreciation

Updated: 02/24/2011

A New "Take" on Tooth Brushing

By Sheila Wolf, RDH

You need to transform the relationship you have probably had your entire life to cleaning your teeth. If you are like me, when you think of cleaning, you probably think of dirt. I clean the dirt off my car. Your mouth is not dirty like your car, your windows, or your kitchen floor. It doesn't have dust and grime. Rather, your mouth contains a tiny world of living bacteria, a very complex society of microorganisms, not unlike your own community in the ways its residents work together and support each other's activities. There are over 500 different kinds of tiny and varied species of germ life so small they can only be viewed with a microscope and identified with bacterial cultures in a laboratory. This collection of microbes is composed of billions of teeny-tiny microscopic "bugs," some good, some bad. Left to themselves and undisturbed, the bad bugs can develop into disease-causing plaques or biofilms that live on your teeth, their roots, and the areas around them, under your gums. If not controlled, specific bugs may cause periodontitis, the infections that break down your teeth and the supporting structures that hold your teeth in your jaws.

Today, we know that tooth decay, gum diseases, abscesses, pus, and bone loss are all caused by bacterial infections. Brushing and flossing, the traditional means of mechanically cleaning your teeth are just not enough. If they were, 3/4 of the population of the United States would not have gum diseases and the systemic illnesses associated with these types of infections. You must learn to control the harmful germ-life that affect the wellness of your mouth, your body, and your unborn child, both chemically and mechanically.

Dr. Paul H. Keyes, a former Senior Researcher at the National Institutes of Health advises, "You must disorganize, disperse, detoxify and disinfect the bacterial biofilms that colonize on the surfaces of the teeth."

According to Dr. Keyes, "The therapeutic value of tooth brushing is attained not only by its potential to mechanically remove food particles and bacterial plaques, but also its ability to deliver antibacterial agents to the surfaces of your teeth and gums which have not been adequately debugged by the mechanical measures you have used."

So, from now on, I want you to think about self-care methods that will decontaminate, disinfect and "de-bug" your teeth. It is from this new perspective that I am going to introduce you to anti-bacterial oral hygiene that will ensure excellent dental health.

Tooth brushing is deserving of an entire chapter. Here you will learn the importance of brushing your teeth, how to brush your teeth, different types of brushes, and even how many different surfaces a tooth has. (The answer might surprise you!)

Our earliest memories of both dentists and their offices usually center around the toothbrush. The big one the dentist or hygienist used on the model teeth to show us how to brush, certainly, but also the FREE one we got to take home when our visit was over!

From the beginning, you may have been bombarded with a flurry of conflicting of instructions on how to perform this vital ritual. Is it up and down? Side to side? Medium bristle? Hard? Soft? And.the biggest question of all: What in the heck is that little Hershey's Kiss-shaped thing on the end of the brush?

No matter how you learned to brush, the simple fact is that you should keep brushing, Brush to disinfect rather than just clean.

As a disinfectant, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) mixed with a tiny bit of salt, and hydrogen peroxide is hard to beat. When mixed as a paste, it will detoxify and disinfect the bacterial biofilms that colonize on the crowns and roots of your teeth and your gums. The easiest way to use this combination is to dip your toothbrush into a capful of peroxide to moisten the bristles. Then dip the brush into the baking soda. The powder will adhere to the moistened bristles and can be applied with the brush along the gum line, or even lightly worked under the gums with the little Hershey's Kiss-shaped doodad on the end of the toothbrush. If the taste is objectionable a little mouthwash can be added to the peroxide. Another approach is to apply any toothpaste you like, and then dip the brush into some baking soda.

Sheila Wolf “BIO”

Sheila Wolf, RDH, affectionately called “Mama Gums,” has been a registered dental hygienist since 1971. She is currently retired from clinical practice but enjoys writing, speaking, and consulting on various oral health issues. She has authored two award-winning books, Pregnancy and Oral Health: The critical connection between your mouth and your baby, and Your Mouth Could Be KILLING You. Both are available on her website, http://www.mamagums.com/about_book.html, through Amazon, and at finer bookstores everywhere. Sheila also works with people privately as an oral wellness coach, educating and empowering people to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime, avoid gum surgery, and just possibly add years to their lives. You may reach Sheila through her website, www.mamagums.com or in San Diego at 866-MAMA-GUMs. 

Sheila will happily share her articles with you. Please acknowledge her contribution by including her “Bio” at the end of the article.

Mama Gums