Growing up, we were constantly told how important it was for us to brush and floss our teeth. The toothbrush wasn’t invented until 1938, and floss wasn’t invented until 1819, so how did people keep their teeth clean before that?
Before the nylon toothbrush we are familiar with today was invented, people used a variety of things to try and keep their teeth clean. Ancient Egyptians used the stick from a tree with frayed ends to act as a type of brush. Ancient Chinese chewed on flavored twigs to try and keep their mouth clean. Greeks would use a powder formed from ox hooves and eggshells for a toothpaste.
Did all ancient civilizations have terrible breath and rotting teeth? Terrible breath yes, but surprisingly, not all ancient people had problems with tooth decay. Rotting teeth did not become a major human problem until about 10,000 years ago when we learned how to farm. When grain and other carbohydrates became sources of food, cavities soon followed. Often with debilitating effects.
Why Is Diet So Important For Our Oral health?
Tooth decay (also called caries or cavities) happens when plaque accumulates on our teeth and bacteria commonly found in the mouth use plaque for energy. The bacteria eats away at our enamel causing it to demineralize and become soft. This soft enamel is then further colonized by bacteria. Unfortunately, once enamel has been compromised it will not regain its previous strength and will need to be removed and replaced. This is commonly called getting a ‘filling’ done. Plaque and bacteria are much more prone to colonize our teeth depending on what foods we eat. This is why our diet is very important.
The most important part of a healthy diet for our oral health is drinking plenty of water. Water helps keep a healthy pH level in our mouth but its most important contribution is fluoride. As of this year, nearly 75% of Americans tap water is fluoridated. If you live in an area where your water is not fluoridated, it is recommended you see your dentist about fluoride supplements. You can check to see if your water is fluoridated at this website: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DOH_MWF/Default/Default.aspx
You want to make sure your diet consists of food that is low in sugar. Dairy, lean proteins, and of course vegetables and fruits are paramount.
One particular thing you want to avoid is sugary soft drinks. The Minnesota dental association recently coined the phrase ‘sip all day, get decay’ to spread awareness of the dangers of soda. Soda is especially damaging in a couple of ways, not only does the sugar form acid and erode the teeth, but it quickly forms plaque. It is best to drink soda in moderation. When the temptation for an ice cold cola does get the best of you; be sure to use a straw and remember that it is best to not drink it for extended periods of time, for example drinking the whole drink at one time is better than sipping on it for hours. After drinking soda rinse your mouth out with water to help restore the pH of the mouth. Believe it or not it is best to not brush your teeth directly after drinking soda. The friction of the toothbrush on the acid attacked teeth can actually cause them harm. Wait 20 minutes before brushing. Sports drinks are also very harmful to our teeth and should also be consumed in moderation. while diet soda doesn’t have the sugar regular soda does, it is still very harmful to our teeth. Look at how soda sizes have evolved in the past 60 years!!!
What happens if we don’t brush our teeth?
Gingivitis (inflammation to our gums) will happen first, which will lead to tooth decay (cavities)!
A study completed in 1965 in Denmark showed how quickly our oral health care suffers when we neglect to take care of it. In the groundbreaking study, twelve people with completely healthy mouths withdrew all measures of cleaning their teeth. In every single case gingivitis was developed. The time necessary to develop gingivitis varied from ten to twenty-one days depending on the person. When the twelve test subjects resumed proper brushing and flossing techniques all signs of gingivitis disappeared.
Gingivitis is the irritation of the gingiva (gums) the part of the mouth that helps protect our teeth and underlying bone in our mouth. Symptoms of gingivitis unfortunately go unnoticed because it is virtually painless until the final stages. Gingivitis is caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a soft structure when it first collects around the base of our teeth, this soft buildup can be removed by a toothbrush at home. If not removed every twelve hours plaque will begin to absorb minerals from the mouth and crystallized into a harder structure called calculus (tartar). The accumulation of calculus is very dangerous to our oral health. If gingivitis isn’t stopped, periodontal disease will form. Periodontal disease can be thought of as a type of gingivitis that has progressed to that point that the inflammation is damaging the bone and tissues holding teeth in place.
Periodontal disease causes gingival recession and the formation of pockets around the tooth where harmful bacteria and calculus will collect. This will lead to further bone loss and more collection of harmful bacteria which will lead to more damage. As you can see it is a complicated process that unfortunately is difficult to control. The most effective way to control periodontal disease, is prevention of getting periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease has been associated with numerous negative health issues including diabetes, heart disease, bad breath, and even stroke.
After gingivitis and periodontal disease, it’s likely that a person not brushing their teeth will develop dental caries (cavity). A cavity happens when the external layer of the teeth, enamel is demineralized and broken down due to acids produced by bacteria. Cavities do not always have symptoms of pain and usually when pain is involved the cavity has progressed deep into the tooth and endodontic surgery (root canal) may be indicated.
Our teeth are in a constant state of demineralization and remineralization, demineralization happens when the pH of the mouth drops below 5.5. This is termed ‘critical pH.’ At this pH, hydroxyapatite, one of the minerals our teeth are made up of will dissolve from the teeth. Our teeth replenishes itself with vital minerals from saliva. Saliva is extremely critical in the care for our teeth. Not only does it help wash away food debris which then reduces plaque, it carries the essential minerals for remineralization of the enamel. Having a dry mouth is very harmful to your teeth, so if you do suffer from dry mouth make sure you’re taking some precautions like drinking extra water, brushing and flossing regularly and even chewing sugar free mints or gum has been proven to help
The Evolution Of The Toothbrush
Believe it or not, according to this government study, 92% of adults age 20 to 64 have had a cavity previously treated, and currently, 26% of adults have untreated cavities!
The nylon head manual toothbrush that we are accustomed to using today wasn’t invented until 1938. Like many things we have in our modern life, it’s really hard to imagine a world without having a toothbrush.
What did people use to keep their mouth clean? Before the modern toothbrush as we know it came to be people used a lot of different mechanisms. The earliest ancestor to the toothbrush can be found in the form of a ‘chew stick’. These are literally what they sound like, a stick that you chew on the ends on to fray them to make them into a brush. Chew sticks have been discovered at archaeological sites as early as 3500 BC. They can be found in various ancient cultures from the Romans and Greeks to the Egyptians.
Brushes with bristles on them were first found in ancient China, it had hog bristles on it. This idea soon spread to other countries in Europe in the 1600’s. From England to China a new weapon in the fight against tooth decay and gingivitis was used: mass made bamboo brushes with boar bristles on the end.
The creation of the modern toothbrush can be traced back to a prisoner by the name of William Addis of Europe. He was thrown in jail for causing a riot. While in jail, he began to look for alternate ways to keep his mouth clean. One day he kept a bone from his dinner and dug holes into it where he tied small bristles of bone into it. When he was released from prison he became a very rich man by mass producing his idea. His toothbrush company, named Wisdom toothbrushes still makes over 80 million toothbrushes a year to this day.
Soon after in the United states, the first known patent was granted for the toothbrush. The design was of an ivory handle with Sibarian Boar bristles. These proved to be ineffective because the bristles themselves trapped bacteria and plaque and did not dry easily.
In 1938 the modern toothbrush as we know it was made by the Du Pont in 1938 when they substituted a form of plastic bristles instead of animal hairs. The first electric toothbrush was invented soon after in Switzerland in 1954. According to the Lemelson-MIT index study of 2003, the toothbrush was the number one invention Americans stated they could not live without
When Is The Best Time Of Day To Brush Your Teeth?
Our teeth are protected by enamel, it’s the hardest substance in the human body. Once that enamel is worn away or eroded away- it’s gone forever! We recommend that you brush at minimum twice a day. In the morning and at night before bed. It’s always a good idea to brush after a meal or twenty minutes after drinking cola or sugary flavored sports drink.
Earlier this year we at Mouth Masters Technology created the world’s first teethbrush. We see this as the next step in the evolution of toothbrushes.
We only get one set of permanent teeth. As you can see brushing your teeth is very important. The EZ Teethbrush is another tool that we can utilize to help us in our fight to keep our teeth healthy!