December 10, 2009

Brushing Your Teeth Like a Professional

new janis By Janis Prince Inniss

clip_image002I remember going to the dentist with my father when I was about five or six years old. This is a happy memory; I felt proud of myself for being such a “big girl”. Given this auspicious beginning, I don’t know why it took more than a decade for me to return to the dentist. The second visit only occurred after my jaw became swollen because my wisdom tooth was impacted and the gum infected. At the time it seemed reasonable to me to avoid the dentist for as long as possible, even if it meant taking over the counter pain meds for a swollen, throbbing jaw.

I avoided the dentist for many more years with the bright idea that I would wait until all of my teeth fell out and then just get dentures made. However, after I became a step-parent I thought I should behave like an adult and start going to the dentist—particularly since my step-children did so without any fuss. I steeled myself and set off. I explained my fear and asked that the dentist and hygienist be gentle. I lived to talk about my triumphant return to the dentist and had to admit that the cleaning was quite tolerable, uneventful even, except for a few times when I had to sit up and take a few deep breaths. I graduated to a few dental procedures and was beginning to feel comfortable going to the dentist. That is, until I moved to Tampa and had to find a new one.

clip_image004After a few years of backsliding, I found a nearby dentist and was glad that I went. These digs were plush: I had my own flat screen television there. The ambiance and experience was more akin to that of a spa than the scary ideas I was carrying around. The next year—dare I say it—I almost looked forward to my cleaning. When I called to schedule my visit, I was deeply disappointed to learn that this office no longer took my insurance. This was just the excuse I needed to stop going to the dentist. After about a year, the cycle started again. I found another dentist, had a good experience, but by the next year that dentist no longer took my insurance. After another break, I found my current dentist in Tampa where I am going for some maintenance.

This post is not about the vagaries of dental insurance, although it is certainly relevant in our current public debate about health care (although note that dental care is not included in most health insurance plans). No, this post addresses what I’ve learned about knowledge, power, and professions by going to the dentist more regularly. Note that dentistry is hardly my area of expertise so apply my “findings” at your own risk:

1. clip_image006Manufacturers should halt the production of manual toothbrushes. Why are those even available for purchase given their poor design to clean our teeth? Do you ever floss after brushing your teeth with a manual tooth brush? Does that exercise make you wonder how much more dirty your teeth would be if you hadn’t bothered to brush?

2. Why don’t dentists make us sign a contract saying we will use an electric toothbrush rather than suggest we buy one? (This is not a suggestion I’m likely to take given the ridiculous prices for those on sale in dental offices.) There are now many varieties of battery operated toothbrushes that are quite reasonable priced and their results are impressive.

3. Back to flossing. Why don’t dentists make us sign contracts saying that we will floss daily? I confess my ignorance about flossing. I thought it was something to do occasionally…if I felt like it. I never had that attitude about brushing my teeth daily.

4. Why don’t we get an early, good education about the proper way to brush? I’ve pieced together information from asking lots of questions and think I’ve finally learned how to brush my teeth properly.

5. Why doesn’t the dentist recommend that people with less than stellar vision brush and floss with our glasses on and/or with the aid of a magnifying mirror? I’m at an age where like many of my friends, my eyesight is deteriorating. A few weeks ago I was stunned to see my teeth in the magnifying mirror of my hotel room. I didn’t know that I couldn’t see what I was doing until I could really see what I was supposed to be doing.


6. Why don’t we have tools that more closely resemble those used by hygienists to clean our teeth? I asked this of my hygienist and her response was something like, “You’re not trained to do this.”

Although I these questions are tongue in cheek, I do wonder why most of us don’t have the correct tools and more information about how we can do a better job cleaning our teeth? Granted, we’re not dental experts with the relevant training but we are responsible for this task on a daily basis. Is one answer that teeth cleaning is a profession? Do you think these issues are an example of a profession that controls the information and goods “non-experts” have available? Is this an example of power through knowledge, in which dental professionals control the information we have?


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Some of the dental tools can be quite dangerous in the wrong hands. That is why only trained professional are allowed to use these dental tools. Besides, it is very difficult to use these tools on yourself.

Janis I'm happy to hear that you're back see the dentist and hygienest on a regular basis.
I would like to comment on some of your findings.

1.Manual VS Electric Toothbrushes
In my experience a manual toothbrush is only as good as the operatorer. If you don't know how to properly brush your teeth then niether the manual or electric toothbrushes are going to do you any good. Yes we are hit everyday on TV and other mass media about how AMAZING this or that Electric Toothbrush are but like the manual is all in how it's being used. You need to brush at least 2X/day but most dental professionals recommend after everytime you eat. Which I know for some seems like an impossible feet. If you can get it done in the morning after breakfast and at night right before bed you're doing better then most.

2.Suggesting buying an Electric toothbrush. The dentists are in the same boat as everyone else. They are trying to keep their business afloat. Yes when used properly an electric toothbrush is better then a manual so they are right to try to get you to buy one. But they are trying to make some money also. Can you blame them in the economic times we're in.

3.Flossing. I agree totally that it needs to be put out there more like brushing your teeth. It is something that needs to be taught and usually taught by the dentist professional. So people need to go to the dentist.

4. Dental Education. There have been more and more advancements on spreding the word on good Oral Hygiene. Dentists are going to schools to talk to and show kids about how to brush their teeth. They are doing exams. I do believe they should have the parents attend that also becuase soo many are ignorant with their views on dental health. With young children some feel that they are just "Baby Teeth" It's okay if they get a cavity in it. Just pull it or leave it be the adult tooth will come. It's sad to hear these things because these children are being forced to live with pain of a severly infected tooth because there parents or ignorant to the facts of oral health.

5. Dental instruments are very dangerous if used improperly by an untrained individual. To used the instruments the hygienest uses you need to be licensed just like him/her.

Pretty interesting stuff. More info than I ever thought of when it comes to dentistry!

Very interesting! I had the fear of dentists too when I was younger, until I found one that does his job without freaking me out. And about why we don’t have better equipment or instruments to clean our own teeth is probably too many people would have a better oral care at home. We wouldn’t need a dentist visit as often as we already do. Dentists would have fewer jobs and surely they wouldn’t want that.

I think this was a great posts!
aWW,I tried posting my longer response when i was excited, but it didn't post :0( So here's my shorter 2 cents.

I've thought about reasong why the cleaning instruments aren't accessible to the general public, as opposed to just dental hygienists and dentists as well. I was always curious why I personally couldn't just chip off the "hard" stuff on my teeth.
But we technically are given the proper PREVENTIVE tools: flossing and brushing. Brushing is the most important thing needed to reduce plaque, which becomes the hard calculus stuff. Flossing removes the guck we get in between our teeth that infects our gums. I definitely agree that oral education is important and needs to be more widespread. But, I don't know if I can say the tool used to clean teeth are being witheld for economic reasons! I'm a second year dental student and the instruments I use to clean my patient's teeth are pretty sharp and definitely require proper orientation.
Thanks for making this posts! I love working with my patients to improve thier education and behaviours. I've been asked some of these questions, so you're definitely not alone on how you feel! I'm a student and so I love getting my similiar questions answered. And like a previous poster stated, a lot of action is being taken by dentists and dental students to educate communities.

Very informative article, visit for more information regarding Dental Implants

Thank you for the information about the oral hygiene. I understand why you try to avoid to see a dentist because if I don't need to see a dentist I will do the same things as you. I am afraid of seeing all of the tool at the dentist office and i don't like to hear the voice when they use the tool to clean my teeth, it freaks me out.

This was very good information. Its very dangerous for those tools to be put in the wrong hands.

Hi Janis, your story is really inspiring. Thank you for sharing. God bless you always!

But, I don't know if I can say the tool used to clean teeth are being witheld for economic reasons! I'm a second year dental student and the instruments I use to clean my patient's teeth are pretty sharp and definitely require proper orientation.

Dental tools are very dangerous if it was put in the wrong hands. Honestly, when I was 12, I was afraid to visit our dentist because of the tools that they have. I overcame my fears, coz' my mom constantly reassures me that our dentists are truly professional and that they can professionally handle children's dental needs.

These are cute ideas, ah..

Me too! I also felt like being a real “big girl” when I first had my dental visit. I remember I had it told to almost all of my classmates. I was in pre-school then and it was only me who had experienced that thing! Trackback to the visit, all the pediatric dentists in Memphis are all accommodating and friendly. One of them became my kid’s dentist after 20 years! Fate isn’t it? So these Memphis dentists eventually became my friends during my son’s Christening because I also had to invite them. One big happy family!

Me too! I also felt like being a real “big girl” when I first had my dental visit. I remember I had it told to almost all of my classmates. I was in pre-school then and it was only me who had experienced that thing! Trackback to the visit, all the pediatric dentists in Memphis are all accommodating and friendly. One of them became my kid’s dentist after 20 years! Fate isn’t it? So these Memphis dentists eventually became my friends during my son’s Christening because I also had to invite them. One big happy family!

Great ideas. :) Very informative.

How we take care of our teeth tells a lot about how we value our health. A smile expresses a lot sometimes that words are no longer needed to convey a message. If we want to be presentable to others and be appreciated for having such a wonderful smile, then we need to do our best in taking care of them by brushing properly.

Great blogging tips. Have more trouble managing my blog than I do with writing blog posts. This helps out immensely.

The use of electric toothbrush and floss may depend on the condition of a person's teeth. Electric toothbrushes can be very useful for some, while others may be advised to use manual variants. As long as they are used properly, these tools can keep our teeth strong and healthy.

I think you have great step-children. And properly teaching them how to brush their teeth shows that you are a good step mom..=)

Thanks for making this posts! I like working with my patients to improve thier schooling & behaviours. I have been asked a number of these questions, so you are definitely not alone on the way you feel! I am a student & so I like getting my similiar questions answered. & like a earlier poster said, plenty of action is being taken by dentists & dental students to educate communities.

Well, I guess the reason why we do not have dental tools like what the dentists use to clean our teeth is because; most of us probably don’t know how to use it. I think the other reason; aside from keeping their business afloat is to keep us from doing harm to ourselves. I mean, admit it, how many can actually perform a professional teeth cleaning procedure by himself without getting hurt? I think it’ll cost you more money if you hurt yourself from cleaning your own teeth than just going to the dentist to do the job.

Very informative article! Thank you for reminding us that we should have regular visits to our dentist. But because of our work we seldom visit our dentist which is indeed wrong. So, from now on I'll make sure that I'll be visiting my dentist every month.

Brushing teeth is a very important things that many of us really need to consider to make our teeth healthy.In Finland country many of dentist recommended to brush their teeth two times a day or use mouth wash in case that they skip on it which for me a very good reminder for everyone.

Is there such a thing as brushing the teeth as professionals? We don’t even know the correct way of brushing the teeth. There are dentists who can be trusted for our teeth but not all of them can give the best advice.

Dentists provide care to patients to prevent and treat dental issues. A dentist fills cavities, examines the teeth and repairs other dental problems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for dentists is expected to increase faster than average. People interested in becoming a good dentist will need to secure the required training and target respected dentists to learn the tricks of the trade. Thanks.

Thanks for this post. Well, I'm agree that not all the dentist give a best advice but there are still who do. Maybe, ask them questions and sure they will give you the best answers..

I never realized that regular toothbrushes aren't that good at getting all of the gunk off of your teeth. Because I grew up using a manual toothbrush, I thought that they worked just as good, and that the electric one was just a suggestion. Now that you point it out, I do have a lot of plaque after I floss, meaning my manual toothbrush just isn't cutting it. I'll probably pay the extra couple of dollars and switch over to an electric toothbrush instead.

These days lot of people are trying number of things for solve their oral health issues. These either include curative or preventive measures. I too tried the same. Honestly, it felt good initially. But gradually, i saw no improvement. My teeth started getting more yellow. In the end I research and came across dentzz review. Got my treatment done. Now i no more need to do several things to keep my oral health in check.

You have mentioned some good ideas about brushing the teeth. I think your post will be helpful for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

Excellent ideas for brushing the teeth! You have shared good piece of information about the dental care in this blog.

Brushing your teeth is an important action you take to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile. You have shared good ideas of brushing your teeth in this blog. Everyone should follow it.

Nice post! It contains useful information to know about professional ways of brushing. This post will surely help people who are suffering from jaw swelling.

This is very much great and hope fully nice blog. Every body can easily found her need able information. I am visit first time but I fond many use full article. I will back again when get time.

We all brush our teeth but most of us don’t know how to brush our teeeth. Let's read this post to know the brushing steps for teeths.

Thanks for the information. Hope to get more tips from your side.

Thanks for this post.It will help to so many peoples.

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