It’s a toothbrush, but is it really?
Back in the 1930s, the nylon bristle toothbrush was invented. Then in the 1950s the inventor created Oral B toothbrush company we all are familiar with today. Over the last 90 years, the technology has come a long way. So has our understanding of oral health. One of the most surprising things is it shouldn’t be called a toothbrush at all!
I know… brush and floss my teeth…
There actually isn’t any such thing as a gum-brush, but there should be! What we know today is that if you take care of your teeth and gums, you can keep them for life! That’s a huge change in thinking from not so long ago, and one that is worth paying attention to! When the toothbrush was invented, it was assumed that by the time you are 60, you will probably have false teeth. There were two main reasons that we lost our teeth. One reason was decay in the teeth, or cavities. The other reason was gum disease.
What we didn’t know is that problems in the mouth are all bacterial infections and can be managed on purpose. When you do take direct care of your teeth, the primary reasons for both problems can be eliminated. The cavities in teeth is a balance of daily cleaning and nutrition. It is actually probably more a function of nutrition, but there is so much added sugar in our foods today that we can’t get away from the negative impacts it has on our health. What we can do is work to counter them. The added fluoride in our water and in toothpaste makes the teeth stronger and less likely to decay. Brushing and flossing removes the junk that bacteria eat to cause decay.
But the most important tool against decay is eating a diet that is more whole and real food and not processed chemicals and artificial sugars and corn syrups. It is dangerous and probably criminal that so much food has high-fructose corn syrup in it today, but that’s a different conversation. This is about the gum-brush!
What’s a gum-brush?
The most important act of tooth brushing is the mechanical cleansing of the gums and stimulation of that tissue. Our daily brushing and flossing will reach about 2.5mm deep into the space between our teeth and gums. If we do that daily, the gentle stimulation of the gum brushing will protect the top three millimeters of that space between the teeth and gums. We have all listened as our hygienist measures those pockets, calling off numbers like 3-2-3, 3-2-3… The problem is once any of them hits 4mm or deeper, there isn’t a good way to get it clean on a daily basis. A waterpick will help a little, but even it doesn’t reach the bottom of a 4mm pocket or deeper. The other tell-tale sign is bleeding. Any time the gums bleed, you can be assured there is infection in the gums causing it.
The next step in the process is the normal bacteria will get replaced with more aggressive bacteria. These create a chronic drain on our immune system and often even shows up in health blood tests like C-reactive protein or hsCRP and also non-fasted blood sugar tests like HbA1C. These are screens for cancer and whole body inflammation and diabetes. And also screens for gum disease. Left unmanaged, it often becomes a combination of multiple issues as the body is only truly healthy when it’s healthy. Any time there is a chronic infection, we are more likely to get more infected.
The toothbrush’s most important job is to gently massage all the gum tissue surrounding our teeth. This improves blood flow in the area and keeps the food those bad bacteria need washed away. As a preventive way to protect your health, you should gum-brush every side of every tooth at least 2 times a day for a couple minutes and floss or waterpik at least once daily.
Preventive health matters!
There is no longer any doubt about what keeps us healthy. It is a couple things that we are largely in control of. If we tackle these things, our lives will be healthier and better as a result. The first couple are simple. An intact skin-barrier is important as our skin is a natural defense mechanism.
Then keep your oral health managed daily. Feeling your tooth brush bristles on your gum tissue on all sides of your teeth and using a waterpik is the key there. If you already have 4mm pockets or they have progressed even deeper, get that addressed! The most effective and easiest approach in most cases is laser-assisted repetitive periodontal therapy. Over a series of a few appointments, the laser can detoxify the tissues around your teeth and the microultrasonics can flush out any bad bacterial colonies.
The next incredibly important leg is good nutrition. A diet of whole foods and single ingredients rather than mixing water with a box of chemicals is so incredibly beneficial to our bodies. Turns out mom was right when she said to eat your veggies! But she was also right on the money when she said “go back upstairs and brush your teeth!”
Just don’t forget to brush your gums too!
What to do now?
If you are already working with one of our laser certified hygienists, you have already heard how this may benefit you. It is simpler and actually more predictable than gum surgery, and absolutely more comfortable. If your tissue pockets are deeper than 3mm or bleed at all, there is infection. The laser periodontal therapy is one of the most effective tools available today! If you aren’t working with one of our hygiene team, feel free to set up a New Patient experience if you want to find out how it can help you.