Friday, August 24, 2012

The toothbrush, the whole toothbrush, and nothing but the toothbrush

The toothbrush, the whole toothbrush, and nothing but the toothbrush . . . okay, and floss, too.

It's time to put a bit of the "miser" back into "Miser Mom", and bring up -- yet again -- the fact that I don't use toothpaste.  By "yet again", I mean that I wrote about this a year ago, explaining some research into why this is actually okay.

For what it's worth, my husband swears my breath smells fine.  What's more, I haven't had a cavity in almost two decades.  And my dental hygienist, who got to clean up my mouth earlier this week, had to ask if it's true that I'm still not using any toothpaste.  When I confirmed my lack of pastiness, she said, "Well, whatever you're doing seems to be okay.  You have hardly any plaque or tartar."

I'm sure that part of the reason my mouth passes muster with her is that I eat a diet that's pretty low in sugar and processed foods.  And aside from coffee in the morning and whiskey at night (not mixed together, mind you), my beverage of choice is tap water: low in cost but rich in fluoride.

The other reason my teeth seem to be hanging together okay is that I'm religious about brushing twice a day.  I mean that almost literally; often I'll pray while I'm brushing my teeth -- by the time I've gotten through asking the Lord for blessings on each person in my family, I've had a heck of a lot of toothbrush time.  But I also mean that I'm strict with myself about brushing every morning, and about brushing and flossing every night.

As anyone who's ever cleaned a bathtub knows, cleaning off gunk is partly chemistry and largely mechanical.  I grew up not using floss, and the floss-less-ness of my life took its toll on me when I was a young adult.  Right after I had my daughter, I went to a dentist who found 5 places where cavities had formed.  Five cavity sites.  But it was worse than that, because the decay sites were between my teeth, so there were actually 10 cavities.  All at once.  My mouth, alas, is a sea of silver.

Back before I got those cavities, I brushed with toothpaste all the time, but I didn't floss.  It wasn't the chemistry; it was the mechanics that did me in.  I've brushed and flossed both, ever since.  And I've been cavity free since, too -- the lesson has been learned.

Over the years, I've kept up the daily scrubbing, but I've gradually cut back on the toothpaste, giving it up pretty much entirely 2 years ago.  And all the while, my dentist keeps gushing about how well I'm caring for my molars.

My trusty old toothbrush, yes.  Floss, yes.  Fluoride, on tap, yes.  But stuff I pay money for just to spit it down the sink -- stuff that comes in plastic packaging that will forever after lie in landfills?   That, I can do without.


  1. What a sensible suggestion! One less thing to buy, and then throw away. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  2. If you are constant in your daily brushing (as you) your system seems to work perfectly.

    But when one is a bit anarchic in teeth cleaning (as me), a bit of fluoride may help a lot. It looks like that your tap water comes fluorided from the Municipality, but in my country it's not allowed. So I use fluoride collutory to brush my teeth instead of toothpaste.

    In my recent dental check a few weeks ago I got my teeth clean up done and was said that I don't have any cavities neither other problems. The last time I had to get a tooth repaired was about five years ago.

    Yes, I know: a plastic bottle from time to time. But here we put them aside and take to a recicling container in the street. They are (supposedly) used to recicling and, this way, make new ones.