Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oral Hygiene in a SitX

Oral Hygiene in a SitX

Most of us drudge to the store to purchase the brand of dentifrice which we grew up on, either weekly, monthly, or other. Todays blog will be telling the tale of humble toothpaste and how to acquire it from common stock come crunch time.

A little history first...
The early history and evolution of the toothbrush has its origin in the "chewingsticks" used by the Babylonians as early as 3500 BC. Ancient Greek and Roman literature even discusses primitive toothpicks that were chewed on to help clean the teeth and mouth.

As the years passed, toothpicks matured into the chew stick which was about the size of a modern pencil. One end was chewed into and became softened and brush-like while the opposite end was pointed and used as a pick to clean food and debris from between the teeth. The twigs used were carefully chosen from aromatic trees that had the ability to clean and freshen the mouth. The earliest literature showing the use of these twigs is found in Chinese literature at around 1600 BC.

The first true bristled toothbrush also originated in China at around 1600 AD. At around 1780, the first toothbrush was made by William Addis of Clerkenald, England. Addis, and later, his descendants, manufactured the finest English brushes, where the handles were carved out of the bone of cattle and the heads of the natural bristles were placed in the bored holes made in the bone and kept in place by thin wire. The natural bristles were obtained from the necks and shoulders of swine, especially from pigs living in colder climates like Siberia and China.

By the early 1800s the bristled brushes were in general use in Europe and Japan. In 1857, H. N. Wadsworth was credited as the first American to receive a toothbrush patent as America entered the growing toothbrush market. In 1844, the first toothbrush was manufactured by hand and patented as a 3-row brush of serrated bristles with larger tufts by Dr. Meyer L. Rhein. In 1885, the Florence Manufacturing Company of Massachusetts, in association with Dr.Rhein, began producing the Pro-phy-lac-tic brush for mass marketing in the United States.

As technology progressed, synthetic bristles replaced the natural swine bristles. Nylon was first applied to the toothbrush at around 1938 and by 1939, electric toothbrushes arrived in an attempt to offer the public a brush that could simulate the action of a manual brush but with better results and cleaning performance.

Hard to believe, but most Americans didn't brush their teeth until soldiers brought the Army's enforced habit back home from World War II. The first real electric toothbrush was produced in 1939, developed in Switzerland. The electrical toothbrush was first marketed in the United States in 1960 by Squibb. The brush was called the Broxodent. General Electric introduced a rechargeable cordless toothbrush in 1961. Interplak was the first rotary action electrical toothbrush for home use, introduced in 1987.

Keep Your Teeth Clean with a Chew Stick.
Thoroughly clean your mouth and teeth with a toothbrush at least once each day. If you don't have a toothbrush, make a chewing stick. Find a twig about 20 centimeters long and 1 centimeter wide. Chew one end of the stick to separate the fibers. Now brush your teeth thoroughly. Another way is to wrap a clean strip of cloth around your fingers and rub your teeth with it to wipe away food particles. You can also brush your teeth with small amounts of sand, baking soda, salt, or soap. Then rinse your mouth with water, salt water, or willow bark tea. Also, flossing your teeth with string or fiber helps oral hygiene.

If you have cavities, you can make temporary fillings by placing candle wax, tobacco, aspirin, hot pepper, tooth paste or powder, or portions of a ginger root into the cavity. Make sure you clean the cavity by rinsing or picking the particles out of the cavity before placing a filling in the cavity.

Over the centuries individuals have been trying different substances for “tooth-cleaning”. People have found some that have made their teeth and gums look and feel better. Some very beneficial combinations have been formulated without any understanding of the therapeutic properties of the ingredients used.

In the material that follows I have tried to provide a little insight into the therapeutic potential of some of these substances. Properly used they equal and often surpass the formulations found in many commercial dentifrices. They many not be as tasty or as convenient to use, but they can be far superior therapeutically.

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
a product used for many years by itself or in combination with other ingredients has several excellent properties. As a soft crystalline substance that dissolves readily, it has a mild abrasive potential. In solution it will kill on contact all of the motile microorganisms associated with periodontal infections, e.g. spirochetes, motile rods, etc. It will also kill other disease related bacteria. It will also neutralize and detoxify the bacterial acids and toxins that form in plaques (bacterial biofilms). I would put this inexpensive, readily available, product at the very top of the list of potentially beneficial dentifrice-ingredients.

Sodium chloride (table salt)
Like baking soda, salt has been used for many years as a dentifrice, alone or in combination. When used alone it is rather stingy and unless milled, rather grainy. It is not highly abrasive, contrary to some opinions. In solution at higher concentrations it will kill on contact all motile microorganisms associated with periodontal infections. However, its antibacterial potential, while good, is not as powerful as that of sodium bicarbonate, and it will not detoxify bacterial byproducts. In higher concentrations it will reduce edema in the gingival tissues and stimulate circulation.


Glycerin has an antibacterial potential, which is not well recognized. When living bacterial dental plaque is examined with a phase contrast microscope, all of the motile microorganisms (spirochetes, amoebae, motile rods, tricohmonads, etc) can be seen actively moving about. If a drop of glycerin is add to the solution in which the bacterial are living, all motility instantly ceases. In the scientific literature some of the antibacterial properties of glycerin have been described.

Hydrogen peroxide.

When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with dentobacterial plaques, it breaks down very rapidly into oxygen and water. This breakdown, which causes the foaming action, is caused by an enzyme (catalase). This foaming action does two things: It helps to disorganize and disperse the bacterial biofilms growing on tooth surfaces, and it reveals places where bacteria are located. When used as an ingredient in dentifrices, it has little, if any, bactericidal action. It breaks down too rapidly.


Vinegar is another product that has been used for dental hygiene for many years. A half strength solution of vinegar (apple cider for taste) will pickle all of the motile bacteria mentioned above, and it will help to dissolve deposits of calculus. For persons whose dental hygiene does not reduce the buildup of bacterial plaques adequately, some of this buildup may harden into calculus. Brushing several time a week with a vinegar solution can help to prevent calculus formation.

Cranberry juice
Unsweetened cranberry juice can be used as mouthwash and as a solution for brushing one's teeth. It will kill all motile bacteria on contact and help to disintegrate plaques. Since it is somewhat acidic, probably it should not be used more then a few times a week. It is pleasant to use and can be swallowed. This juice can be used as a rinse and then swallowed. Brushing the teeth with cranberry juice leaves the teeth and mouth feeling very fresh and clean. After brushing one can rinse again and expectorate or swallow the juice. For the care of handicapped persons who cannot manage conventional oral hygiene measures, this could be a pleasant solution for caregivers to use. It is tasty and can be swallowed.

Neutrogena Soap (unscented)
About 25 years ago a dentist on the West Coast called my attention to the use of unscented Neutrogena soap as an ingredient in a homemade dentifrice. When a solution of this soap comes into contact with the motile microorganisms in plaques all motility ceases rapidly. To use, rub dry or moisten bristles over a bar of this soap. The unscented type tastes soapy. The scented tastes awful.

Weak solution of sodium hypochlorite (e.g. Clorox)
One teaspoon in a pint of water provides a very powerful irrigation solution (DO NOT INGEST). The taste is very unpleasant, but it can be very beneficial in the maintenance-regimen for persons who have been treated for periodontal diseases. Brushing the teeth with baking soda after using this solution will rapidly neutralize its taste. Then one can rinse with a pleasant tasting mouthwash.

There are numerous ways the ingredients mentioned above may be used alone or in combination. With their antibacterial potentials they can be very beneficial therapeutically, if properly applied to tooth surfaces and gingival crevices. They will help to control the bacterial populations that cannot be removed mechanically with irrigation, brushing, flossing, or tooth picking.

Now to combine it all...
Tooth powder recipes.

Basic Homemade Toothpowder:
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla, almond or peppermint extract)
  • Air-tight container ( This is a must! The flavoring will evaporate without it. )
Mix the ingredients together. Be sure to cover the container with a tight-fitting lid after each use.

Homemade Mint Toothpaste:
  • 6 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons glycerin
  • 15 drops peppermint
Mix thoroughly. Should be a tooth paste consistency.
You can add a few drops of peppermint or wintergreen for flavor.
Store in a container. You'll be surprised with how fresh your mouth feels.

One can even reuse a toothpaste container for this one.
Cut out the seal in the rear of the tube.
Rinse out the old tube.
Fill with your new toothpaste concoction!

Old Fashioned Tooth Powder:
  • 2 Tbsp dried lemon or orange rind
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 Tsp salt
Place rinds in food processor, grind until peel becomes a fine powder.
Add baking soda and salt then process a few seconds more until you have a fine powder.
Store in an airtight tin or jar.
Dip moistened toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.
Homemade Spearmint Mouthwash:
  • 6 ounces water
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 4 teaspoons liquid glycerine
  • 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
  • 10-15 drops Spearmint essential oil
Boil water and vodka, add glycerine and aloe vera gel.
Remove from the heat, let cool slightly.
Add spearmint oil, shake well.
Pour into bottle, cap tightly.

Baking Soda Mouthwash:

  • 2 ounces of Water.
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda or Sea Salt.
  • 1 drop of Pure Peppermint Oil.
  • 1 drop of Tea Tree oil.

Mix thoroughly.
Pour into bottle, cap tightly.
Hygiene can fortify an individual when humanities comforts are few.

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