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Good Health and Bad Medicine:
 Diet - Part 2

 Diet - Part 3

 Diet - Part 4

 Diet - Part 5

 Some Common Food Fallacies

 Teeth - Part 1

 Teeth - Part 2

 Teeth - Part 3

 Obesity - Part 1

 Obesity - Part 2

 Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine

Teeth - Part 3

( Originally Published 1940 )

The Toothbrush

For cleansing the teeth the brush is the thing. Proper selection and use of a brush are more important for good dental hygiene than any toothpaste, tooth powder or mouth wash.

To accomplish its cleansing function best and most safely, a toothbrush should have the following characteristics, ac-cording to the best dental opinion available:

1. The brush should have a straight handle and a brush head in straight line with the handle. Concave or convex brushes or brush heads should be avoided, because they are unsuited to the job of cleaning the many planes and curves of the teeth.

2. The brush head should be about one inch in length, i.e., small enough to permit easy manipulation.

3. The bristle tufts should be of even length (about inch) and arranged in two or three rows.

4. The bristles should be of medium stiffness.

5. The handle should be rigid and not flexible.

Toothbrushes should be cleaned after use by rinsing in a forceful stream of cold water from faucet. For most satisfactory service one should keep two toothbrushes on hand and use them alternately in order that time be given for each brush to dry out thoroughly.

How to Brush the Teeth

The best description of the technique of scientific tooth-brushing is that of Dr. Isador Hirschfeld, a leading investigator of dental problems. The following is taken from Dr. Hirschfeld's large monograph, "The Toothbrush: Its Use and Abuse." Dental Items of Interest Pub. Co., Brooklyn, N. Y. 1939

1. The procedure in brushing should have a definite sequence. Start with the biting surfaces first and then proceed with the other areas.

2. A practical way to insure an equal amount of brushing on every surface of every tooth is to repeat each stroke a definite number of times, usually ten, in each area, in proper sequence. Once the technique is mastered, tooth brushing should not take more than three minutes altogether.

3. The brush is placed at a 45 angle against the gums and teeth so that the sides of the bristles rest on the gums and the bristles point toward the biting edge of the teeth. With the bristles tending to fall between the teeth, exert as much pressure as possible, giving the brush several slight rotatory or vibratory movements. This will cause the sides of the bristles to come in contact with the gum margin and produce an ideal massage of the gums. Never allow the movement to disengage the bristles.

4. Only three or four teeth are brushed at a time.

5. In brushing the back surfaces of the teeth, hold the brush vertical or nearly vertical and use a vertical stroke.

6. The mouth should be thoroughly rinsed after the use of the toothbrush in order to clean out the food particles loosened by the brush.

7. Dental floss should also be used once daily (preferably at night after the brushing) to dislodge food collected between the teeth which the brush may not reach. Grasp the floss with the forefinger and thumb of each hand. For good control, the amount of floss between the fingers should not be more than an inch long. Gently force the floss between the teeth and wipe each tooth with a sawing motion. Do not snap the floss between the teeth, as it may strike against the gums causing injury, with subsequent inflammation and a source for development of pyorrhea.

If one is afflicted with bleeding gums, pyorrhea, or other diseased conditions, the use of toothbrush and floss should be stopped immediately and a good dentist consulted. Many disease conditions are only further irritated by the tooth-brush. In some instances, however, the proper use of a tooth-brush may be of benefit in clearing up the trouble. The lay-man cannot depend upon his own judgment in such a situation but should seek that of an expert.


Toothache, like any other pain, has many causes. Until a dentist can be visited, relief may be obtained by one of the following means:

1. Swab the gums at the site of the pain with mild (2%) tincture of iodine. If this does not give relief, it should not be repeated.

2. Rinse the mouth with warm water. If the pain can be traced to a certain tooth and if the tooth contains an accessible cavity, it may be helpful to apply a small wad of cotton soaked in a toothache drop to the cavity. The most useful drops are called N.F. (National Formulary) Toothache Drops. They consist of a 25% solution of chlorbutanol in oil of cloves.

3. A thick paste of sodium bicarbonate pressed into the cavity, if it is accessible, may be of great help.

4. One or two aspirin tablets every three hours or so also may help, if you are not sensitive to aspirin.

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