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Tooth Talk by Brinkley Dental Group “Everything you ever wanted to know about toothbrushes but were afraid to ask!”


You walk into your local pharmacy, big box store or even the grocery store and there they are: row upon row upon row of shiny, white bristled, colourful toothbrushes staring down at you. Hanging along the shelves are the “Plain Jane” brushes, like the wallflower at the high school dance, while nearby hang the “popular kids,” the bright, bold super fauna of toothbrushes, sporting not just white but multi-coloured bristles. There are toothbrushes that spin, “manual” toothbrushes, electric and battery operated toothbrushes – so much variety I’m surprised they haven’t invented one that can brush your teeth for you while you sleep! The sheer variety of toothbrushes that spin is enough to make your head spin! Underneath that display is another, an enormous selection of toothpaste. Each guarantees to make your teeth pearly white, whiter than white, just right white or even luminescent. There’s toothpaste for kids, for adults, for sensitive teeth, for dentures….it’s overwhelming. Who knew sourcing toothpaste and a brush, once a garden variety “no-brainer” would be such a difficult task? Where to start? 

Well first, for a bit of fun, we look to history. The first known evidence of people cleaning their teeth is from Babylonian times. Early Egyptians are known to have used a “chew stick” to both clean their teeth and act as a toothpick. The earliest known item closely resembling our modern day toothbrush was found in China, circa 619, and it used hog bristles sourced from Siberia. William Addis of England is thought to be the first person to “mass-produce” toothbrushes and it was the chemical giant DuPont, in the 1930’s, who took toothbrush manufacturing to the masses through the introduction of nylon fibres for the bristles.

Now back to modern day. Since we actually have toothbrushes made of something more palatable than hog bristles, how should we care for our teeth? Well, we here at Brinkley would like to suggest that the most important thing to remember is to simply brush your teeth! It doesn’t have to be complicated, like the Nike commercial says: “ just do it!” As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs, developing great oral hygiene is the key to a healthy, white smile. That said here are some general tips and guidelines to keep in mind when you set out to replace your toothbrush.

  • How often should you replace?

The answer will depend on the type of brush you use and the frequency with which you use it but the generally accepted principle of 8 – 12 weeks applies in most cases. When you start to notice bristles bending or looking worn, it’s probably time for a replacement.

  • What kind – soft, medium or hard bristle?

While hard bristles are certainly efficient at cleaning the teeth, they can be particularly hard on the gum line. Most dentists, including our Team here at Brinkley, recommend soft bristled brushes to maximize efficiency while reducing the potential for harmful damage to your teeth enamel.

  • To spin or not to spin – that is the question?

More important than the type of brush you use is your method of brushing teeth. Use a toothbrush that is the right size and the right shape for your mouth. Use a gentle motion “massaging” your teeth and make sure you brush for two – three minutes. If using an electric or battery operated spinning toothbrush, this encourages your young child to brush longer.

From Hogs hair, to nylon to the myriad of materials used in toothbrushes today – we’ve come a long way! Some things never change though and good oral health hygiene is one of them. Establishing and sticking to a regular routine is most important, along with regular visits to your Dentist.

Next blog we’ll look at the many varieties of toothpaste on the market and talk about both toothpaste and teeth whitening too!

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