New York Dental Astoria - Blog

Tips, tricks and suggestions about oral health.

The Toothbrush - your at home weapon in the fight against cavities.

In one form or another, the toothbrush has been around for ,quite literally, thousands of years. We have come to depend on this deceptively simple instrument of oral care, to keep our mouth fresh and clean, as well as to keep cavities away.

Ideally, we should all brush, three times per day, after every meal. Keeping to a regular, daily oral hygiene regimen is the best way to prevent expensive and ,sometimes, painful, procedures and treatments at the dentist's office.

But, no matter how good your at-home oral care is, nothing beats a check-up at your family dentist. It is always important to visit the dentist twice per year, just to have a professional eye give your teeth ,the once-over. Your dentist, can spot potential problems that you , as a patient, could not be expected to see or diagnose.

That having been said, as partners with our dentist, in better oral health , we have to do our part, as well. And that's where the toothbrush takes center-stage.

When you take care of your toothbrush, it will return the favor and take care of you!

Keep your family members' toothbrushes separate. Never co-mingle them in a glass on the bathroom sink. This is unsanitary and it also promotes illness , should one of your kids or your spouse be sick. When the bristles touch each other, germs spread much too easily.

If you are just getting over the flu ,strep throat or even the common cold, it's a good idea to throw the toothbrush that you've been using, into the trash. Go out and buy a new toothbrush, so you don't re-infect yourself with old germs.
In fact, keep a spare toothbrush in your medicine cabinet, at all times. you never know when you'll drop the brush onto the bathroom floor. That's a gross place, no matter how clean you try to keep it.

Once you have taken your new toothbrush out of the package; leave it out. Never, ever place a wet or used toothbrush in any type of closed container. That can promote bacteria. Let your toothbrush breathe in the air. 

And....don't forget to rinse the head of your brush out thoroughly , with warm or cold water. Examine the brush carefully and make sure that the bristles are free of any toothpaste residue or food particles. Don't turn your toothbrush into a "garbage receptacle". Most dentists advise that you routinely replace your toothbrush, every three or four months. Sooner, if the bristles become frayed. Bent, frayed bristles will not perform the task that they were intended to do.

Nowadays, we can go out to our neighborhood Pharmacy or National Brand big box store and purchase all manner of toothbrushes, in a rainbow of colors. Our ancestors, however, didn't have it so good. Sure, our great-great -great grandparents and their ancestors wanted to take care of their teeth, but, their options were strictly limited.

Did you know that the ancient Chinese used chew sticks, to take care of their teeth, centuries before they invented the first toothbrush?
Chew sticks were just that....small, thin wooden sticks , whose frayed ends were used to "brush" one's teeth. The other end of the chew stick was frequently used as a toothpick. I guess that you could say that the chew stick was also the precursor of dental floss.
The Egyptians also made use of the chew stick.

In the 15th century, the Chinese are credited with having invented the first natural bristle toothbrush. The bristles were made out of hair from the neck of pigs. The bristles were then attached to a bone or a bamboo handle.
An Englishman, William Addis came up with the first mass-produced toothbrush, in the 1780s. An inmate in one of His Royal Majesty's prisons, Mr. Addis made a bristle toothbrush out of old bones from a chicken dinner . The head of the brush consisted of pig bristles that he sewed into tufts and then glued into place.

When Mr. Addis finally got out of jail, he started up a company that manufactured toothbrushes. This former, down on his luck prisoner, became a very wealthy man. His company is now known as Wisdom toothbrushes and is one of the largest manufacturers of its' kind in the world, today.

Bristles were made from animal hair and feathers until the 1930's when du Pont invented the nylon bristle and the modern toothbrush, as we know it today. Now, all bristles are synthetic and, mostly ,nylon.

Contemporary toothbrushes are more colorful, functional and hygienic than ever before. Toothbrush heads come in rectangular, oval and oblong shapes , with smaller heads designed just for kids. You can even buy a brush with cartoon and movie characters displayed on the handle. That's not a bad idea. Maybe, your daughter will brush more frequently, if her favorite Princess from the Movie "Frozen" is on the packaging and toothbrush, itself.

And, don't be shy about picking out your favorite color , either , be it lime green or electric blue.

Toothbrush handles are easier to hold and move around your mouth. It should be able to reach your back molars with ease. The new type of handles are straight (traditional), angled and curved. Many of them have soft, rubber areas on the handle, giving them a firmer grip. Experts advise that ,when shopping for a toothbrush, make sure that the tips of the bristles are round.

We were all taught how to brush our teeth, from childhood. But, that doesn't mean that you can't ask your dentist or hygienist for a quick refresher course, to see if your brushing technique is correct. Remember to brush each tooth, front and back.

If you're thinking about buying an electric toothbrush, most pharmacies carry them in stock. But, discuss this with your dental professional, to see if an electric powered toothbrush is right for you.

Electric toothbrushes first came to market, in the United States, back in 1960. The Squibb Corporation manufactured the Broxodent, which was a big-time hit with the public.
By and large, electric powered brushes eliminate food debris and fight plaque build-up just as well as their manual counterparts. Some dentists believe that the motion and rotation of the moving bristles can even give your teeth a deeper clean.

Senior citizens, with arthritis or limited use of their hands, find that having an electric-powered toothbrush is a godsend.

No matter which toothbrush you choose , it has to be one that you're comfortable with, or you just won't use it. That is not good for promoting great oral health at all.

When you visit your CVS, Rite-Aid or Mom and Pop pharmacy, you, at least, won't have to worry about choosing between hog , wild boar or horse hair bristled toothbrushes when perusing the shelves. Now, that's progress we can ALL agree on.

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