Bits and Bites
A celebration of Oral Hygiene

Oral Exams
Test your dental advertising IQ

Look Ma, No Cavities
A Bite-size history of brushing your teeth

Tooth and Lies
All about toothpaste

Pulling for You
Whole pop dentists' hall of fame and more

Bad Breath
Yours and your dog's

Coming Extractions
Dentists in the movies

Strangers in Dentifrice
From Shanghai to Ceylon to Switzerland

   Bits and Bites
How about a tooth tattoo? Tiny gold images of hearts, butterflies, rabbits have become popular among certain trendy subgroups. The downside is that from a distance of more than about 3 feet it just looks like you have food stuck in your teeth.

Colgate reportedly faced a big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command “go hang yourself.”

Although Crest with fluoride came out in 1955, it just sat on store shelves, to Procter & Gamble’s bewilderment. P&G touted a high-profile study proving that fluoride prevents cavities and lobbied the American Dental Association for an endorsement. Both—touted in “Look ma, our group had 23% fewer cavities!” ads— finally brought Crest skyrocketing sales in the early 1960s.
In 1959, dentists performed 34 extractions for every 100 people; now it’s half that rate. Getting dentures was considered a natural step in aging. The number of people indentured to their artificial bites goes down by the year.

Thanks to fluoride and other preventive methods, baby boomers are probably the last generation that will have a lot of cavities in their permanent teeth.

View advertisment (1960s)

Many drugs can cause cavities. Saliva is a natural bacteria destroyer, and anti-depressants, antihypertensives, antihistamines, decongestants, and muscle relaxants can all inhibit saliva production.
(Smoking caterpillars also have to take care.)


Two out of three people brush too hard, says Dr. Trucia Drommond of Chicago, causing damage to gums and teeth. His prescription? Soft bristles, a loose grip between thumb and forefinger, just a smidgen of toothpaste, and 2-5 minutes of oh-so-gentle caressing instead of 1 minute of scrubbing.