p16 Perfection of brushing skills.

Your teeth work all the time. They prop your jaws apart 24 hours

a day, keeping the shape of your face. They help form your speech,

break down all your food (how many tons of food do we eat in a lifetime?).

How many times do we use them in ninety years?

So they deserve the best of help we can give them!

You now know how to clean your teeth. But it's going to take a little bit of practice before you can do it to perfection.

Keep reminding yourself that it is a film ('The Film' in page5) covering your teeth and gums which you are just disturbing with the bristles of your brush. The broken-up film then just washes away. You are not brushing food particles away so you do not need to brush after eating or drinking.

Instead you need to find a time of day when you are not rushing off somewhere, a time instead that you are going to devote solely to look after your teeth.

I brush my teeth and gums just once a day - but thoroughly. If you want to brush more often than that, you'll not do any harm - I just don't have any more time than once a day, and once a day is sufficient. If it makes you feel more confident to have a fresh toothpasty breath first thing in the morning but don't have much time, just have a quick brush then, but save the proper job for a later time.

Brushing your teeth and gums properly in this way will take you about six to seven minutes at first. After a few months this will come down about three minutes. After a year it will less than two.

Don't be too rough with your brushing at first until you get the hang of it. If you've been brushing any other way before, this previous brushing method will almost certainly have invovled those powerful muscles of the upper arm, shoulder and back. From now on you'll be using the finer, more definite muscles of the wrist and hand. If you try to use those other, powerful, ones, you'll hurt yourself and you will not achieve what you need to achieve.

Starting points.
 A.

 Your mouth is relatively healthy without any inflamed gums.
 B.

 Your gums bleed a bit when you brush them but you don't think they are particularly unhealthy.
C. 

 Your gums bleed readily every time you brush and even when you eat something like an apple.

Type A. Start at one corner of your mouth at top, with the brush as far up as you can reach on the pink bit. Press the brush against the gum and move it vertically down the gum and on over the teeth - bottom of page7 . Do this six times in one direction only.

Then move on to the next bit round the jaw and repeat and so on. You can start at the bottom if you wish - it's all the same. You can mix it all up, but there's a danger that you'll miss a bit this way. Rinse all the stuff away with water.

How hard to brush? I cannot tell you that - you will need to find out by trial and error - you need the ends of the bristles to contact all of the gum and all of the sides of the tooth. If you brush too lightly, the bristles will not go into the space between the teeth at gum level. If you brush too heavily, you will bend the bristles to such a degree that they are moving sideways - that won't work.

Type B. Brush round as in 'A' above (page7). When you've finished, go round gently with the brush just wet - none of any cleaning material on it. As you go, frequently look at the brush. When you find a bleedy bit, make a mental note of where it comes from. When you're finished go round again and give these bleedy areas another bit of brushing, but NOT TOO HARD - you should not hurt yourself.

In the following days, repeat this extra brushing - the reason it bleeds is that it has regularly been missed in the past, the gum has slowly broken down and so it bleeds easily. The extra brushing will lift the covering film off the gum regularly and slowly the gum will heal up, shrink and stop bleeding.

Type C. Pick one area of your mouth, wherever you'd like to start, perhaps, if you are uneasy, a very small bit. Using a softish brush, do to that area as in 'A' above (page7) - you'll probably get lots of bleeding at first. It's OK - you are unlikely to die from loss of blood!

In the days that follow, the bleeding will slowly get less (it won't stop), and you can now include another bit of the your mouth. Keep up the work on the first bit. Some bits will take longer to get better than others.

When you've got all aroung the mouth, buy a slightly stiffer brush for the first area, using the existing brush for the rest, and so on until you can put a normal brush in there and charge around like me in three minutes.

The procedure might take many months or even years until the gums are perfect but you will see improvements regularly

Always remind yourself of what you are doing - you are disturbing a film covering ('The Film' in page5) so that the gum can look after itself - returning it to its natural state in saliva.

Finally, though my mouth is perfect - I would say that, wouldn't I - I too am fallible.

I can miss bits too - our worlds are too complicated for us to always concentrate

on the repetitive jobs we do. So I regularly look at my toothbrush for those tell-tale

red bits that tell me I've been missing part of my mouth. So if you do this too,

you will be a perfect toothbrusher.

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