Back to Basics

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A recent nationwide outage served as a timely reminder about how much we have come to rely on technology for our daily existence. Suddenly plunged into a world without access to instant information – and for some of us – a world without coffee first thing in the morning, many were left scrambling to find a café with internet access to complete their work. What does all of this have to do with oral health care? To the team at Brinkley Dental in Brampton, it was a subtle reminder to get back to the basics.

These days there are all manner of devices geared toward making our “brushing experience” more effective and efficient. Electric toothbrushes, Wi-Fi enabled technology that can track how long we brush for and who knows what else, all claim to help better and more accurately target toothbrushing to ensure healthy teeth, and a healthy mouth and gums. But what happens when those systems fail? What happens when the Wi-Fi is down, your toothbrush is out of batteries, or your charging mechanism can’t charge? Do you stop brushing your teeth? Of course not! Chances are you simply revert to the good old-fashioned toothbrush, and you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

People have been brushing teeth, in one way or another, for hundreds, if not thousands of years. We once wrote a blog on “Survivor style” toothbrushes where contestants on the show mimicked techniques used by certain groups around the world for centuries.* We also once wrote about alternatives to toothpaste including baking soda or highly diluted hydrogen peroxide and many other options too. These are items our ancestors once used and that some people still use today because in some instances, what worked well in the past still works well today. That’s not to suggest you all run out and purchase a big box of baking soda today, after all, fluoride has been shown to be a good thing and most commercial toothpaste contains it, but it’s just a reminder that sometimes relying on what worked for our grandparents will work for us too. With that in mind, here’s a few “Pro Tips” on brushing – without the benefit of technology!

  • If you rely on the “fancy-dancy” technologically advanced type of toothbrushes, make sure you still have an actual, handheld and non-battery-operated toothbrush available for emergencies.
  • You may also want to invest in a travel-sized toothbrush system not only for travelling, but as back up in the event of power failures.
  • Brush those teeth following these simple instructions you probably learned when you were just a kid:
    • Use a gentle up and down motion
    • Move from the outer surfaces to the inner surface and from back teeth to front teeth.
    • Make an effort to clean thoroughly between the teeth and along the gum line
    • Use just a pea sized amount of toothpaste
    • Brush your tongue too – yes, brush your tongue, from back to front!
  • Medium bristled brush – Hard is usually too hard on your teeth.
  • Brush for two minutes – set the egg timer if you have to!
  • Rinse well.
  • Floss regularly – even if not every time, be sure flossing is part of your dental care routine.

Maybe all of this seems a little like overkill. After all, we all learned how to brush our teeth when we were just kids right? Believe it or not, so many of us have become so conditioned to the use of technology throughout our daily lives that even a reminder about “back to basics” dental care routines are important.

In an effort to entice children to brush their teeth many parents will resort to all manner of fun or interesting methods and for some, that results in a toothbrush that does all the work and children who never really pick up on the actual skill of brushing teeth the old-fashioned way – manually! Be prepared the next time there is a nationwide internet interruption – always have a manual toothbrush at the ready! In the meantime, we’ll end as we always do with this gentle reminder: “Don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and brush that smile!”

* Excerpt from a previous blog:

Chewing sticks have actually been in use for centuries. Traditional peoples from around the globe have utilized indigenous plants and trees to fashion natural toothbrushes. Understanding the environment around them, ancient peoples used twigs that contained natural healing properties, often from such trees as the Eucalyptus, Oak, Fir or Juniper.  In parts of Africa, chew sticks are made from the “salvadora persica” tree which is actually otherwise known as the “toothbrush tree.” (1) Wikipedia.  When these twigs/sticks are used properly, with care and caution, the chewing stick has actually been shown in some research studies to outrank the toothbrush in terms of its effectiveness! 

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