We all want that smile full of beautiful, straight, healthy teeth. We want to look forward to a good report at our next dentist appointment and we certainly don’t want to hear any drilling sounds or the buzzing of dental tools.
So, how do we prevent the deterioration of our teeth and keep our mouth in check? There are several ways to promote dental health, but keeping up a steady and thorough brushing routine is top.
How often should you brush your teeth? Let’s get into it and find out, as well as how our current rituals have evolved over the years!
A Quick History
We all know we should brush our teeth. But who made up the rules? Where did the toothbrush even come from. Let’s look at the history of it all.
For many years throughout early history, there was no practice of brushing teeth.
Before you close your browser in disgust, you should know that there was no need for the present day’s kind of oral care ritual. That’s because foods were whole, natural, and unaltered. Without processed foods and the use of chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful additions, teeth were able to stay clean and strong, sans brushing.
So when did the need for brushing our teeth arise and how were the procedures and recommendations built?
The earliest known version of a toothbrush was invented by ancient Egyptians around 3000 BC. Less like a toothbrush and more of a primitive floss pick, these civilizations used small twigs that had been frayed at the ends. The frayed ends would be rubbed on the teeth and gums in an attempt to remove food and build-up.
New advances to the toothbrush were made in the late 1400’s when China began making brushes made from bone (and sometimes bamboo) attached to the hairs from a hogs back.
Toothbrushes continued to evolve, with boar bristles being used until 1938 when nylon bristles were invented and promoted during World War II. According to the Smithsonian Institute, “It took a war to change Americans' tooth brushing habits. In an attempt to keep soldiers healthy and fighting during World War II, they were required to brush their teeth as part of their daily hygiene practices. Returning home they brought their new oral hygiene habits with them.” This is when American culture adapted these practices.
Toothpaste had similar beginnings in Egypt and has also come lightyears in improvements since. Throughout the years you may have used a toothpaste containing chalk, soap, salt, or the ashes of hooves. Thankfully a major advancement was made in the early 1900’s when fluoride toothpaste was invented. To this day, fluoride toothpaste is still the recommendation of dentists.
How Many Times a Day You Should Brush
From never brushing at all, to brushing with pig’s hair, to now - where have we currently landed on the rituals of brushing and taking care of your teeth?
It is recommended that you brush your teeth twice daily, for at least two minutes each time.
This is to ensure enough time to give each tooth attention. It also disourages food particles and other unwanted bacteria from sitting on your teeth for too long. While brushing twice per day is the standard, you may want to brush after each meal, for extra protection.
Additionally, flossing, use an antiseptic mouthwash, and a good fluoride toothpaste are vital to getting the most benefits from your brushing routine.
Why Brushing Your Teeth is So Important Now
While many people focus on a diet full of organic and unprocessed foods, many of the foods we now eat regularly do contain harmful additives. These things are bad for your teeth and gums, so while their occurrence in foods increases, so must brushing.
Years ago, proponents of toothbrushing would advocate for it with the focus on aesthetic, marketing toothpaste and toothbrushes to those who wanted to look beautiful. Though a beautiful smile can still be achieved by brushing with a whitening toothpaste, we now know that the benefits of brushing go beyond just beauty. (Though you could also get the best of all world with an anticavity, whitening, AND strengthening toothpaste like ours here at Twice!)
What If I Don’t Brush Enough?
Here are a few risks of not brushing your teeth, some more serious than others, but all worth knowing. Read along to find out a few consequences of skipping your brushing session.
Beverages like coffee and tea can leave not just residue on our teeth, but unsightly stains.
Brushing with a whitening toothpaste will help remove these stains without the use of harsh bleaches and peroxides.
If you want your teeth to look as sparkly as they are healthy, brush twice a day as well as after drinking your morning cup o’ joe (and reap the anti-cavity and enamel strengthening benefits that come with our whitening toothpaste!). Discolored teeth may not be harmful to you, but a stunning white smile never hurt!
Have you ever eaten a delicious meal that contained potent ingredients like onions or garlic? As soon as a meal like that is over, you just can’t wait to brush the odor off of your teeth and tongue. This is because food bacteria can hang out on your tongue and between your teeth and it won’t just rinse away with water alone.
Brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash regularly will help cleanse and break-down odor-causing bacteria and keep your breath smelling minty fresh.
This is the most commonly recognized consequence of not brushing thoroughly or frequently enough. Cavities are the result of bacteria and plaque building up on your teeth. This plaque, if it gets time to sit, will attach the enamel of your teeth. If so, the plaque build-up can lead to enamel damage, tartar, or tooth decay (cavities).
Making sure to brush enough will stop this process and using a fluoride toothpaste will help protect your enamel and deter cavity-causing plaque build-up. Fluoride is like a little bouncer for your mouth, keeping away any unwanted visitors.
In addition to brushing twice a day, it can be beneficial to brush after eating certain foods that welcome plaque build-up with open arms. Some of the biggest contributors to plaque are foods and beverages that are high in sugar, starches, or acid like soda, chips, cookies, cakes, and candy.
If cavities exist on your teeth and the decay has had the time to continue causing the deterioration of your teeth, the damage may go beyond the enamel and dentin layers of your teeth and into the root, causing infection, pain, and irritation. If so, a root canal may be needed to try and save the tooth. Otherwise, a tooth sustaining too much decay may need to be replaced with an artificial tooth. Avoid this by continuing to brush as recommended.
Much like a cavity is caused by plaque being welcome to stay on your teeth for too long, gingivitis can occur when plaque hangs out along the top of your teeth where they meet the gumline. Plaque can move up under the gums, causing swelling and irritation.
Gingivitis is uncomfortable but is not an issue concerning damage to your mouth. However, if gingivitis turns into periodontitis, problematic damage may occur.
Make sure, when you are brushing for your 2 minutes, that you focus on your gum line as well as your teeth.
Brushing Bonus Round
In addition to using a toothbrush and toothpaste twice a day, here are a few other ways to ensure that you are taking care of your teeth:
- Brush Correctly. Don’t just brush often, brush correctly by making sure to use soft bristles and gentle circles along the gumline and getting each tooth.
- Brush Your Tongue. Give your routine a boost and keep that bad breath away by brushing or scraping your tongue each time you brush. Fill your mouth with water, letting it run out while you clean. This will help flush away those odors.
- Floss Daily. Toothbrushes aren’t able to get into every small space inside your mouth. That’s where flossing comes in. Cavities on your teeth can be avoided by brushing with fluoride, and cavities in between your teeth can be avoided by flossing at least once a day. Give build-up a one-two punch by flossing when you brush.
Use Mouth Rinse. Similarly to floss, a mouthwash will assist in releasing food particles from on and between your teeth, as liquid can get between the places that a brush alone cannot. A mouth rinse can also aid in saliva production and help your mouth rinse itself through the day.
Use Fluoride. We repeat, use fluoride! This is not so much a bonus to brushing your teeth as a vital sidekick. Brushing with a non-fluoride toothpaste will not protect your teeth effectively, leaving them susceptible to cavities.
- Our toothpaste here at Twice includes a safe amount of fluoride, but without any unnecessary ingredients. Even with simple ingredients, our toothpaste is crisp-tasting, full of vitamins A, C, and E as well as aloe vera to keep your mouth happy and healthy.
Now that you have a little oral health history under your belt, as well as a look at the current benefits of brushing, you have everything you need to keep your teeth healthy for years to come.
Help build yourself a ritual of brushing by finding products you enjoy and remembering the good you are doing for yourself!