In a recent Huffpost editorial called “How the Traditional Nylon Toothbrush May Be Causing Your Gums to Disappear,” a dentist took aim at the toothbrush as the leading cause of receding gums.
Although there’s much that’s correct about the editorial, there are so many flaws in the article that it may be more harmful than helpful. Here are five of the most egregious errors.
Blames Nylon Toothbrush, but Doesn’t Address Alternatives
The article title promises that we’re going to analyze how the traditional nylon toothbrush is to blame for receding gums, but nothing in the article itself actually talks about the role that nylon bristles may play in accelerating enamel erosion or gum recession.
Nor does it talk about the fact that people have alternatives to the nylon toothbrush. For example, if you want to go primitive can take advantage of new services that will deliver a miswak or traditional cleaning stick from the “toothbrush tree.” Or they can buy fancy toothbrushes that have silicone heads and bristles that may be gentler on teeth and gums.
It would be nice if the author would tell us whether these alternatives are better, the worse, or the same for our teeth and gums.
Says Toothbrush to Blame, but It’s Technique
Because the author never really talks about the toothbrush, we realize that his bone is not with the toothbrush itself, but with the way people are brushing their teeth.
The problem is not the toothbrush or toothbrushing, but the fact that people are brushing their teeth wrong, brushing very hard and damaging their enamel and gums.
Doesn’t Talk About Technique
But there’s barely a word about how properly to brush one’s teeth. There’s some controversy about what is the best approach, and he might helpfully address the issue of which technique is most likely to preserve enamel and gum tissue. But since he doesn’t speak in any detail, he never gets to this issue.
Pro-Floss Doesn’t Have to Be Anti-Brush
A large portion of the article digresses about how toothbrushing is misguided because it doesn’t clean the area where most disease starts: between the teeth. The author then admonishes the reader to make sure they’re flossing their teeth.
It’s hard to see how this is relevant to the issue at hand. There’s no need to insult the toothbrush because people don’t floss. Though flossing can protect you from gum disease, and you should do it.
Doesn’t Address Toothpaste
At one point, the author cites the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry as calling dentin hypersensitivity and gingival recession “toothbrush disease.” However, this is not their label, merely one they quote in a paper the author cites. However, in that same paper, the College addresses the multiple causes of receding gums, including overzealous toothbrushing and toothpaste abrasivity. (NB: This paper never mentions anything about the nylon in the toothbrush.)
In fact, the article says, “ Toothbrushing alone has no abrasive or erosive action on dentin; loss of dentin may be a result of the abrasivity of toothpastes.” While the toothbrush may impact the gums, it’s the toothpaste that can really damage both teeth and gums.
If You’ve Lost Gums to Brushing
There’s no need to get rid of your nylon toothbrush: it will work just fine, if you use it properly. Avoid pushing too hard against your teeth, and avoid overly aggressive motions with your brush. And don’t forget to floss.
But if you’re getting this news too late to save your gums, don’t worry. Gum rejuvenation can restore your gums to their healthy, youthful position and protect your cementum against decay and erosion. To learn more about gum rejuvenation in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.