Could "brushing your teeth" actually be bad advice?

 

Now don’t get all up in arms, hear me out first. I truly believe this can be a paradigm shift. 

Picture in your mind your six-year-old self being instructed to “go brush your teeth”. You pick up the brush and start scrubbing all those pearly whites, jumping from top to bottom, left to right, and inside, outside and then back again. The more scrubbing, the more foam, it’s a symphony of cleanliness.

Brushing, a bit too fast and a bit too hard. We tell our kids to make sure they do a good job or else they’ll get cavities. In their minds, “good job” means harder and faster. Right? Maybe even more toothpaste. Yes, whiter, cleaner, no cavities.

Clean means scrubbing.

It’s human nature to want to scrub. Whether it’s our teeth, our armpits, our head or even the dishes. We learn scrubbing very early on in life. And once we develop this technique, it’s hard to stop or change. It’s like learning to eat slower, it just doesn’t feel natural. 

Another issue is, the teeth are hard, and we feel inclined to exert more pressure, because they just won't feel clean unless we scrub. 

So how do we change these innate tendencies? I think we have to trick the mind.  We need to trigger our brain to think differently.  

What if we changed the narrative? Could that help us perform differently  

Don't "brush your teeth", but instead “brush your gum line”? Could this actually help us to change our technique? Because gums and scrubbing doesn't sound to pleasant. Teeth and scrubbing, yes. Gums, not so much.

It certainly sounds strange enough to work. It’s really all about mindset. 

Not only is this the area (the gum line) we will get the biggest benefit from our brushing, but at the same time if we're focused at the gum line we start to lay off the pressure. (I hope)

Slowly moving from one tooth to the next, gently hugging the gum line, if we had learned to focus on the gum line from an early age we probably would’ve never developed that harried scrubbing habit. Because that would hurt. 

The technique we should've developed should resemble more of a short wiggling motion than a scrubbing motion.  Now we’re cleaning in a manner that promotes healthier, stronger teeth and gums.

Target the gum line, not the teeth. Slow, gentle short strokes

 

(O.K you can scrub the chewing surfaces, but this should be the only scrubbing, let it go here.)

What's your brushing look like? Are you a tortoise or a hare?

Share your comments below. 

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