Taking care of one’s teeth used to be a simple thing. Go out, buy a 29-cent toothbrush, brush at least once a day (although dentists will tell you three times a day) and you’re done in three minutes. If you are really aged your toothbrush may have cost only 10 cents. My, my have times a-changed! It was a slow evolution into today’s tooth brushing practices, but it was like going from an amoeba to an orangutan.
The first thing to happen was that the old back and forth type of brushing just wasn’t doing the job. You should brush up and down. Okay, that was easy. Next it wasn’t enough to brush up and down in front of our teeth, but you had to brush behind your teeth. A bit harder but doable. Then someone, probably a seamstress, discovered that pulling or pushing a waxed thread between your teeth helped keep the villain “Tartar” in check. If you had really big spaces between your teeth, a conical shaped brush was invented (probably by Mr. Fuller wanting to expand the brush business) that you pushed in and out between those spaces.
For decades that was tooth brushing, plain and simple. Then Mr. Braun, being very lazy, invented the electric toothbrush and sold them for $40. Awesome things and the top-of-the-line model even had a timer so you would know when two minutes of brushing was over. Two minutes of brushing seems like 24 hours. The new improved 2010 model now has about 30 bristles in an oblong pattern and, I understand, tells you how long to brush and alerts you to any tooth area you may have missed and scolds you if you stop before the allotted time. It costs $95.
With the advent of the toothpaste “Mentadent” came the idea that if peroxide was good for your teeth in toothpaste, then rinsing your mouth with peroxide would also be a good thing to do. Those who swished it full-strength soon found the inside of their mouth cauterized forever. Many learned from that mistake and diluted it 50-50. Works well to keep a mouth clean, but does nothing for the evil “Tartar.”
Somewhere in the 1980’s some genius invented a thing called the Waterpik. You fill a container full of water, push a switch on the device which has a tube attached to it with a long, narrow, pointy, stick that shoots a steady, tiny stream of high pressure water on your gumline and tries to rip your gums off. If this stick is misdirected you could blast a hole in your cheek or remove your tonsils. It is also very good at spraying water all over the bathroom and particularly on your mirror.
An old proverb says “what goes around comes around,” and the latest technique for keeping those pearly whites whiter than ever and absolutely free of nasty “Tartar” is a thing called a Stim-U-Dent plaque remover (plaque is a precursor to the evil tartar). A Stim-U-Dent is nothing more than a glorified toothpick. Yes, folks, a toothpick. It is a sort of squarish piece of wood that you push in and out between your teeth to remove whatever lurks in the crevices of your teeth. Imagine that! It has been reported that ancient, primitive tribes used a similar device, although a bit rounder, which is why many skull artifacts found still contain a good set of teeth.
So, here I am taking more time each day to keep my teeth clean than I take doing most anything else (it seems like four hours). I brush (electrically of course) for the proper time, then I floss, then I use the conical brush, then I waterpik, then I use the Stim-U-Dent, and finally I swish with peroxide! I am confident that my dental hygiene is as good as it is going to get no matter what my dentist tell me. And, I’m only doing it once a day! I refuse to add one more thing to my dental routine because I really do need some time for having a life beyond my teeth!