While brushing and flossing daily remain the best, most effectively proven habits you can practice to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, you can unintentionally harm your oral health if overly aggressive when brushing.
Overbrushing is a common problem for many Americans, one that dentists see all too frequently. Overbrushing – the act of brushing too hard or with too much force – can cause the erosion of tooth enamel and gum inflammation that increases the risk of decay and gum disease.
To help reduce the risk of overbrushing, one entrepreneur has developed a new toothbrush specifically designed to eliminate extreme brushing. Inventor Steven Walther’s new product, the Toof-inger brush, features the same type of brush head as a standard toothbrush, but with a handle that’s half the typical length. A shorter handle forces the user to hold the brush with just two fingers – hence the unusual sounding name – which significantly reduces the amount of force the user can apply to their teeth while brushing.
Simple but Effective
While the concept for this revolutionary brush sounds anything but, the novel design was unique enough that Walther was able to patent the intellectual property rights behind his toothbrush. Over 23,000 brushes have already been sold, receiving high praise and support from the dental community.
The idea for this type of brush came to Walther while stationed in Afghanistan as Special Forces Medic running an oral health clinic. He discovered that a lot of the people living in the region did not practice the same types of oral hygiene habits as many of those living in the western world. In most developed countries, kids are taught by their parents about the importance of brushing at a very young age, and over the years brushing becomes more of a mindless habit. Many people also assume that to properly clean their teeth, they need to add significant pressure while brushing. However, unlike the bathtub, scrubbing doesn’t necessarily equate to a cleaner mouth.
Brushing actually requires a delicate touch, necessitating just gentle pressure be applied to the surface of teeth and along the gum line. Despite the need for a gentle approach, many people grip their toothbrush in a vice like fist prior to attacking their teeth. While many within the dental community have attempted to curb overbrushing by focusing on the size of brush heads, Walther’s method seeks a more elegant solution.
Forced to be Gentle
No matter an individual’s strength, they have less power when forced to brush using two fingers than with their entire hand. By eliminating much of the leverage typically used when brushing, the Toof-inger restricts how much pressure an individual can place on his or her teeth while brushing. And since brushing with just two fingers is such a foreign concept to many, the Toof-inger makes users actually think about the process of brushing and focus more on cleaning their teeth effectively, rather than just with brute force.
While the majority of these new types of brushes have been directly sold to dentists who then give them away to patients, Walther has hopes of one day mass-marketing the product to the public at large. Until then, make sure to consider a little more carefully just how hard you’re brushing the next time you pick up a toothbrush.