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When you’re knee-deep in a world full of smartphones and social media, it’s tough to imagine a time before the conveniences of modern technologies, let alone a time when the simplest devices were not commercially available, including the toothbrush.
This simple tool has a profound effect on your oral health, as well as your overall wellbeing. In this article, we’ll discuss the origins of the toothbrush, why it’s so important to brush properly, toothbrush care, manual vs. electric toothbrushes, and little-known facts about them.
History of the toothbrush
The toothbrush, as we know it today, was not invented until 1938. However, research has thoroughly documented the history of the toothbrush. Early Native Americans used pounded hardwood twigs as toothbrushes 300 to 400 years ago. They preferred woods such as maple, dogwood, and oak because of the soft yet sturdy makeup.
In the east, during the Tang Dynasty, ancient Chinese would use stiff, coarse hog hair as bristles that were attached to a piece of bone or bamboo. Boar bristles were actually used up until the 1930’s when nylon bristles were introduced by Dupont de Nemours. This model was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes. This has been shown to achieve significant plaque removal. Use a fluoride toothpaste to enhance fluoride concentration levels in your saliva.
To brush, hold the toothbrush against your gum line at a 45-degree angle. Move the brush gently back and forth in short strokes. Make vertical strokes to clean the inside surfaces of your teeth. You should touch upon all surfaces, including inner, outer, and chewing (top surface), cleaning your teeth, gums, and tongue.
How to buy a toothbrush
There are certain components that you should be on the lookout for when you go to buy a toothbrush. It’s important to use a toothbrush that is right for you.
Size does matter. The ideal toothbrush head should allow for easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. For the typical adult, a toothbrush head measuring a half-inch wide and one-inch tall will be the most efficient and easier way to clean your teeth.
There are many kinds of bristle varieties available, including soft, medium, or hard nylon. For many people, a soft-bristled toothbrush provides comfort and safety. Your selection will be based on how vigorously you brush and the strength of your teeth.
If you have softer teeth, hard bristles can actually damage the gums, root surface, and enamel. For even more protection against potential tooth harm, choose a brush with rounded bristle tips.
Toothbrush care tips
Taking care of your toothbrush is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene. Here are some tips on how to properly care for your toothbrush:
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If a toothbrush sits longer than that, bristles can fray and damage your teeth and gums.
- Never share your toothbrush. This could result in an exchange of bodily fluids and/or micro-organisms, putting you at risk for infection.
- Rinse your brush thoroughly with warm tap water after brushing. This will remove any remaining toothpaste and debris.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air dry.
- Do not cover or store your toothbrush in a closed container. A moist environment is conducive to bacterial growth.
- If more than one toothbrush is being stored in the same holder or area, keep the bristles separate to avoid any cross-contamination.
Manual vs electric toothbrushes
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque buildup that causes disease and tooth decay. However, each type of brush comes with its own list of pros and cons.
Manual toothbrushes have been around for a really long time. While they don’t have the bells and whistles found in many electric toothbrushes, they are still effective at maintaining good oral health.
Manual toothbrushes are easily accessible at any pharmacy or grocery store. They are also very affordable. However, people who use a manual toothbrush run the risk of brushing too hard, which can hurt your teeth and gums.
Electric toothbrushes have bristles that rotate or vibrate to help remove plaque more effectively. These vibrations enable micro-movements every time the bristles move across the surface of your teeth.
Electronic toothbrushes are easier to use for people with limited mobility, such as people with arthritis, developmental disabilities, and carpal tunnel.
Electronic toothbrushes also sometimes feature a built-in timer to help you brush for a sufficient amount of time.
Another feature of a lot of electric toothbrushes have is a pressure sensor. Placing too much pressure on your teeth can be harmful and irritate your gums. These sensors let you know when you are using too much force and will use a buzzer, light, or beeper for indication.
Electric toothbrushes are more expensive than manual ones. They can cost anywhere from $15 to $250 per brush. Also, replacement heads can run you between $10 and $45.
Toothbrushes have been around for centuries. It is important to know how to correctly buy, care for, and use a toothbrush. Not only does proper brushing with a good toothbrush make your smile shine, but it also results in good oral and bodily health.
Author bio: Kim is a writer by profession. She mostly writes about self-care and how to maintain a good and healthy life. Apart from being a fantastic writer she also loves painting and has executed a few exhibitions to display her creativity. This article was reviewed by a dental professional for accuracy.