My dentist gives me a new toothbrush every time I visit, which is normally every six months. A few years ago he went on a soft toothbrush kick. As I understand it, a small group of Canadian dentists decided they didn't like any of the toothbrushes on the market -- all had bristles which were too thick and too hard, in their estimation. They feared that over time the harsh bristles would damage teeth and gums.
The dentists had a toothbrush manufactured to their specifications. It was a very traditional design. No sharply bent neck, no coloured bristles that fade with use. The big difference between this new toothbrush and all the others in the market were the very thin, soft bristles. My dentist got a number of the first toothbrushes and gave them to his patients. I loved mine. My wife hated hers. A soft bristled toothbrush may or may not be better, the jury is still out, but the ultra soft bristles definitely don't please everyone.
The last time I visited my dentist I got a standard Oral B toothbrush. It claimed to be soft but it was downright hard compared to that special, soft-bristled toothbrush. I tried keeping my old brush but it was clearly worn out. Regretfully I tossed my unique toothbrush.
I take an anticoagulant daily to reduce my risk of stroke. The blood thinner makes bleeding gums more of a problem for me than for the average person. I try to take good care of my gums and my new Oral B toothbrush was too hard. No matter how lightly I brushed my teeth, I had bleeding.
Colgate SlimSoft toothbrush is a little lighter and slimmer with more bristles than other brush. This is possible because each bristle is thinner and more tapered. I bought a SlimSoft and I love it. I'm going to buy a number. I don't want to run out. I've already watched as one good brush was withdrawn from the market.
When one has had some types of heart valve surgery, the risk of endocarditis, a heart infection, increases. Although endocarditis is rare, affecting less than 20,000 people in the States annually, it is serious. Those affected can die.
I've had the mitral valve in my heart repaired. Whenever I had a dental procedure performed I was required to take 2 grams of amoxicillin an hour prior to my appointment. Taking a walloping big dose of antibiotic to possibly protect one against a very low risk infection is controversial. Personally, I side with those who argue the risks associated with taking a massive dose of amoxicillin are greater than the risk of developing endocarditis from having one's teeth cleaned.
I saw this preventive use as an abuse of a powerful antibiotic. After the first few dental visits, I refused to take the amoxicillin. My dentist allowed me to refuse but I have heard that some dentists told patients that they had a choice: take the meds or take the door.
American Heart Association admits "there is a concern that widespread use of antibiotics for this purpose
might contribute to promoting antibiotic
resistance, an important issue today, as well as
needlessly expose patients to antibiotic side effects such as allergic
What is agreed upon is that it is important to try and prevent the development of endocarditis. Good oral hygiene, daily brushing and flossing followed by the use of a good mouthwash is believed to offer a fair degree of protection. To this end, I have added a thirty second mouth rinse using Listerine Total Care to my daily oral health ritual.
Total Care is not the only suitable mouthwash but it is the one that I have settled upon. A few years ago Listerine ran into problems when the manufacturer claimed Listerine could replace flossing. It can't.
I know I am at risk of endocarditis but I honestly believe I have lessened that risk by adopting the use of the new Colgate SlimSoft toothbrush and teaming it with the daily use of dental floss followed by a morning and night 30-second cleansing slosh of Listerine Total Care.
At my next check-up the dentist is going to measure the pockets at the base of my teeth. I'll have a better idea at that time of how successful this three tiered assault on periodontal disease has been.
Today was check-up day. My pockets measured mostly 1s and 2s. I had some 3s and two 4s. 4s are bad while 1s and 2s are good. Pretty good for an old geezer in his late 60s. Clearly, I am doing something right.