Blog | Bogobrush


Are you, too, a sparkling water addict? Do you sip your bubbly water throughout the day, smugly reminding yourself that you're getting your 8 glasses of water a day and actually loving it?

What's your favorite flavor? Maybe it's coconut or orange vanilla (my personal favorite) or black cherry - there's almost too many delicious options to choose from. 

I have sad news out there for all you fellow addicts - flavored sparkling water is damaging your teeth. 

COME AGAIN, you say?

The breakdown is this: the flavor in your sparkling water is mostly citric and other fruit acids, which can cause tooth erosion (which can eventually cause your teeth to be hypersensitive to temperature and more cavity-prone). 

Basically, the more acidic a drink is, the greater the threat to your pearly whites. Anything less than a pH of 4 is considered detrimental to your teeth, and the flavors are the culprit. Plain sparkling water has a pH of 5, which is totally fine - drink that plain sparkling water all day! Once flavor is added, all bets are off, and you're better off only having these as a "treat." 


Acidic bottled water

(Bottled beverages under the red portion fall within an acidic pH range; beverages under the blue portion are within a basic pH range. From the Journal of Dental Hygiene)

The bottom line: flavored sparkling water is still way better to drink than soda, but should still be considered a treat. Regular water or plain sparkling water are better options. 

I know this is hard to read, but over time, you'll adjust. I promise.

Interested in learning more? Check out the original article here.

written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

Child raising is no easy task, especially if you’re a first-time parent. Despite all the advice that friends, family, and well-wishers throw at you, it seems that none of them actually work in terms of making the job easier. I’m sure you’re frantically trying to find space in your hectic schedule to get a bathroom break in peace, let alone a wink of sleep! So of course, I understand the look you’re going to give me when I tell you that somewhere in between the baby bottle juggling and the diaper toss, you’ve got to schedule your child’s first dental visit, too. A look that’s mixed between, “Can you not see I’m busy drowning in to do lists?” and “Why don’t you try your hand at this?” As if you don’t already have enough advice being thrown at you left and right, a few words on a child’s first dental visit:


A child’s first baby tooth appears around 6 months old. Typically, it will be one of the lower two front teeth. Look out for it, although I am sure your little one will let you know it’s coming as they’re gnawing away at all those teething toys, or in some cases, whatever they can get their mouths on. Some might wail as a precautionary measure to warn you that it’s teething time! If the tooth comes earlier or later than 6 months, don’t be alarmed! It is considered normal to be within 3 months of the scheduled timeline. It is important to remember that some babies have a head start, and others are late bloomers. The eruption of the first baby tooth is the first sign that your child should see their dentist. It is recommended that a child establishes their “dental home” no later than a year after their birth. The sooner, the better - here’s why!


When it comes to teeth, we can get behind creating good dental habits early on. It is best if a child establishes a dental home at a young age for multiple reasons.

  • To check and maintain a healthy oral cavity: It’s obvious that there is tooth decay when a tooth has turned black. Anyone can diagnose that. Unfortunately, by that point, it may be too late! Most tooth decay detected by our eyes have already been present for a long time! We recommend seeing your child every six months as soon as the first tooth erupts, so that we can spot problems early on! Maybe our exams will be limited until your child is old enough to take radiographs, but an exam is still better than nothing at all! Let’s be proactive with our dental care!
  • To develop good oral hygiene habits: When your little one is six months old, the people dentists really want to talk to are the parents. As parents, you will have to guide your child toward good, daily oral hygiene habits. Sometimes, that means holding their hand and doing the brushing for them until they are five years old! We know that they will want to grow up fast but we want them to grow up WITH TEETH! So don’t let them go on their own too early. If your child insists, maybe give them time to brush on their own, and then immediately afterwards, follow up by re-brushing their teeth. Your dentist should be willing to go over some tips if you’re having difficulty with your child’s brushing tendencies. I am sure you have a lot of questions, so do not hesitate to ask your dentist on these visits. Plus, the more times your child gets their cleanings, the more opportunities the dentist has to inform them on ways they can improve, too!
  • To become familiar with the family dentist and dental procedures: Dental procedures can be seen as scary to kids, no thanks to the bright lights, loud sounds, and perception in the media. But they shouldn’t be! We want kids to be familiar with going to the dentist. We want appointments to be fun! And we want to make check-ups easy for them. You know the saying: practice makes perfect. The more times they see the dentist, the more comfortable they will be.
  • To avoid fear of the dentist: Humans, especially little ones, fear the unknown. By developing a dental home early on, a child can become more comfortable with the dentist and will start to see check-ups as part of a routine. When you start to brush your child’s teeth, at first they will resist. But after many practice runs, much resistance, and possibly battle scars, they will soon accept it as a part of life. That’s the same with the dental visit (minus the battle scars!).

Things to Expect:

The first dental visit is not going to be perfect. But it establishes the start of what will be a great relationship between your child and their dentist. Here are some things that you might need to prepare yourself for.

  • The first dental visit will be a visual exam. At six months old, we are not going to take radiographs, a fact you probably already knew. “So what’s the point?”, you may ask. The first visit is usually a visual exam. Meaning, we have your child open their mouth and take a peek at their brand new chompers. If we can get a dental instrument in there to feel the surfaces for any ‘holes’ or ‘soft spots’ that might indicate a cavity, then great! If not, then there is always the next visit. What we really want to accomplish is the familiarity of going to the dentist. Good habits are easier developed early on.
  • Your child may cry. Let’s face it. Everything at the dental office is completely alien to your little one. There’s a lot of stimulation going on and your child may not like it. So, they cry. Well, crying is actually good, because I can stick my head in their tiny mouths and peer at their teeth, mid-cry. Sometimes, that’s better than fighting with a child to open their mouth. If your child cries, do not immediately assume it’s related to trauma or pain. And please do not stop coming to the dentist. As mentioned before, the more they get used to coming in, the more cooperative they’ll be in future visits.
  • Nothing may get done. If the baby or child is not cooperative AND does not cry, then it’d be pretty difficult to take a look at their teeth. No worries! Let’s just call this an introductory visit! “Here’s the dentist, your new friend!” “Nice to meet you, little one! Next time, you are going to do so great, we just know it!”
  • We have to be patient: We don’t want your child to have a traumatic experience, because that can affect their perception of dental procedures and can keep them away from their six month check ups when they grow older. We want the experience to be positive, therefore, forcing a child to cooperate is not the best way to go. We can always try again next time. If there IS treatment that needs to be done, but your child stops cooperating, there are also other things we can do, such as refer to a pediatric dentist (also known as a pedodontist) who specializes in working with children!

So there you have it! Now you are equipped with the to-dos and the whys and the hows. If you can find time to establish a dental home for your child early on, you and your child will have an easier time as your child gets older. Hopefully this advice helps you sleep soundly at night too, knowing that their teeth are in good hands!

The Debtist

Samantha Tillapaugh is a practicing general dentist in Orange County, CA and is a lifestyle blogger at

written by Jordyn Meskan of NDSU's Engineers Without Borders

The project

Three years. Three years of project design and re-design. Three years of fundraising. Three years of planning and project coordination. Three years is the amount of time that passed since I was last in Las Tablitas, Guatemala with my Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter. 

As a senior Civil Engineering student at North Dakota State University (NDSU), I've been blessed with the opportunity to be an active member of our EWB Chapter since my freshman year. EWB is an organization that partners with communities in developing countries to design and build infrastructure projects. Each chapter works with a community for a series of five projects. This creates a partnership with a community, building trust, friendships, and successes between the EWB chapter and the community. Our partner community is Las Tablitas, a small mountainside village in Guatemala.  

The past three years were filled with preparing for our fifth and final project with Las Tablitas: a new community center. Due to the size and scope of this project, our team decided to split it into two phases. Phase I consisted of the demolition of the existing structure at the project site, installation of a water line to bring water to the facility, and digging the cesspool. Phase II consists of the construction of the walls and roof, installation of the solar panels and electrical system, and connecting the plumbing into the sanitation system. The community intends to use the new facility as a place to hold community meetings, where women can go give birth, and a place volunteer medical teams can come in and provide care. 

NDSU + Bogobrush

Las Tablitas

Mid-May I had the opportunity to travel to Las Tablitas for ten days with six of my classmates and one professional mentor to implement Phase I of our project. Nothing could have compared the energy and excitement we had the night before our flight left! With many nights in the lab working well into the wee hours of the morning, countless fundraising phone calls, travel prep meetings, and the stress of school on top our EWB responsibilities, many of us found that there was no time for excitement. In fact, the final weeks leading up to our departure consisted of dead week (also known as the week that all professors choose to have their term projects and final assignments due) and finals week. The Saturday immediately after the finals week was full of commencement festivities of which four of our travel team members graduated (not me, I get to do a partial victory lap). Then on Sunday we waved goodbye to Fargo and headed to Minneapolis to catch our 5:45 AM flight on Monday morning. Basically 2.5+ weeks prior to our departure were so busy we didn't have time to get excited, so all that excitement was funneled into the night before our flight (Mother’s Day), and it was awesome.  

Fast forward a few days and we were riding up a bumpy gravel road to the little mountain village that captured my heart three years ago. My excitement riding up to the project site was mixed with a little nervousness and what ifs... What if our project design doesn't work? What if we don't live up to the community's expectations? What if conditions are worse than we thought? What if we weren't properly prepared? These were all running through my head as I bounced in the back seat of the van.  

NDSU + Bogobrush

From the classroom to the real world

While we’ve learned how to solve problems in class, how to effectively use our resources, and which computers in the computer lab were reliable, our course work didn't exactly teach us how to design a community center on the side of the mountain in Guatemala... and then proceed to oversee the construction of it. We were relying solely on our internship experiences, my memory from the implementation trip I went on three years ago, knowledge of the locals helping with the construction, our translator, and probably the heaviest on our professional mentor. Heck, we owe a lot to our professional mentor. His expertise and experience back home and his numerous visits to Las Tablitas helped guide us through the construction phase.  

The week proceeded with lots of digging. And by digging, I mean pickaxing through bedrock. The area we were digging for the cesspool had a thin layer of soil on top, and then solid rock. While this threw a wrench into our plans, the community and our team took it in good stride, adjusted project plans to account for the existing conditions. All in all, I was pleased with the progress we made throughout the trip.  

I was incredibly grateful for all the community members that helped with the construction of this part of the project. There were times I was digging part of the trench for the water line or pickaxing at the cesspool pit, and a local would offer to take over for me. Perhaps they were just taking pity on me for the little progress I seemed to be making...or maybe they pitied my poor technique!  

Befriending the locals

One day myself and another team member needed to hike through the brush and partway up the mountainside to document the conditions of the water tank. It was just the two of us, and we were relying on our memories. Turns out our memories didn't do their job, and we took the wrong fork in the trail landing us in a family's back yard. After a little discussion with the mother, she directed us in the general direction of the water tank. As we continued in the general direction, Eduardo, a local man, found us and personally led us to the water tank. Along the way he filled us in with information about how well the tank was functioning and showed us another spring nearby. We were so grateful for his willingness to help. Although we didn't know our exact route to the water tank, my confidence was boosted when we were able to successfully carry a conversation about the tank in Spanish 

NDSU x Bogobrush

During construction, kids were running around all the time playing with us. They were even picking up shovels and pickaxes and jumping in to help. Necessary work breaks were required to play with the kids, chat with them in broken Spanish, and to lather up with sunscreen. If we weren't enjoying time with the kids, we were taking in the views. Seriously, our project site was the prettiest project site I've ever been on. Situated on the side of the mountain, we could look down and see the beautiful blue water of Lago de Izabal and the stunning mountains on the other side.  


The project eventually was at a point where our team was getting in the way more than helping, so we had a couple free afternoons of site seeing and getting a good feel for the region. We took an afternoon boat ride from Rio Dulce over to Livingston and the Amatique Bay off the Caribbean Sea. It was so beautiful! Another afternoon went to El Boquerón, which was a canyon in the mountains with a river running through it. A giant canoe brought our team up river a little, then we were free to swim upstream until we reached a beautiful waterfall.  

Even with our mini excursions, my favorite day was the Sunday of our trip. It was scheduled as a day of rest. The morning began at Agua Caliente, a hot spring-fed waterfall that merged with another small river. We swam for the morning and jumped off the top of a waterfall, climbed rocks, and hiked to the source of the hot spring. After a quick lunch in nearby El Estor, we road in the back of the pickup up the mountainside to Las Tablitas 

Community building

The community gathered for a town meeting with our team at the project site. I was elected by our team to address the community regarding project updates alongside one of the other team members. The meeting served as an opportunity to thank the community for their support, discuss the progress and plans moving forward, and answer any concerns community members had about the project. This was the first time in my life in which my message was translated from English to Spanish to Q'eqchi', a local indigenous language many of the locals speak. It was SO COOL! While I'd like to think my Spanish was decent, there was no way I could have effectively expressed how grateful we were for the community's support and hospitality smoothly in Spanish. But, it was really cool to listen to how it was translated into Spanish, and then again into a language I knew so little about! 

NDSU x Bogobrush

To top things off, the afternoon in the village wasn't even over at the conclusion of the meeting. We headed over to the soccer field a little ways down the road, with over 50 kids excitedly jumping in the back of the pick up and running behind to catch up. If you're wondering how many little Guatemalan kids can fit in the back of a pickup, the answer is 23 kids... you know, in case you were trying to do the math in your head. 

With the huge group of kids all gathered at the soccer field, the kids lined up in two lines, one full of the boys and one full of the girls. The kids knew they were getting small gifts, but they didn't know what they were. They were so excited with smiles as wide as the soccer field we were on. One by one we passed out new toothbrushes and pencils to the children. Our chapter teamed up with Bogobrush to bring 93 completely biodegradable toothbrushes to Las Tablitas 

The importance of oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is something that often gets overlooked in developing communities, and Las Tablitas was no exception. There were many kids with rotting teeth, some even under the age of five. Through conversation with our in-country partners, Centro Cristiano Cultural de Guatemala (CCCG), we learned that many these kids were the first generation of this community learning about the importance of brushing their teeth. Their parents and grandparents never brushed their teeth, and so oral hygiene was never practiced. CCCG regularly works in Las Tablitasand has been working hard to teach the children about oral hygiene. After each kid was stocked with a toothbrush and pencil, everyone circled up and turned their attention to one of our team members and our translators, of whom gave an excellent lesson on how to properly brush their teeth. The kidlaughed when the lesson leaders got to the step on spitting out the toothpaste after brushing for a little while. Giggles and laughs proceeded even after the lesson was over, as all the kids took time to practice using their toothbrushes—minus the toothpaste!  NDSU + Bogobrush

We wrapped up the afternoon running around playing soccer, with multiple matches going on at the same time. In true North Dakotan fashion, we taught some of the girls how to swing dance (country swing, of course). Some of the girls enjoyed braiding our hair too! When the time came to leave, it was bittersweet. I felt a feeling of sadness wash over me as we left Las Tablitas for potentially the last time ever. However, I was pleased with the progress we made on the project, the relationships we built with the community members and kids, and the memories we made.  

Conducting the community meeting, the smiles on the children's faces after receiving the toothbrushes and pencils, and an afternoon of fun on the field made for the perfect ending to our time in Las Tablitas. The opportunity to work on a real-world project as college students was incredibly rewarding. Taking part in the implementation of the project and meeting the people it affected... that was the icing on the cake. A lot can happen in three years. Three years of working on this project made the return to Las Tablitas worth the wait... and let me tell you, it was so worth the wait. 

NDSU + Bogobrush

For more information about our chapter and our partnership with Las Tablitas, click here! I also invite you to "Like" our page on Facebook to follow our chapter updates. 

Engineers Without Borders is an organization that partners with developing communities around the world to design and develop sustainable infrastructure projects. The North Dakota State University chapter is comprised of students of all engineering backgrounds. They have been working with the small mountainside community of Las Tablitas in Guatemala since 2011.

Jordyn Meskan is a senior Civil Engineering student at North Dakota State University. Recently she finished her term as president of the North Dakota State University chapter during the 2017-2018 school year.


written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

Charcoal sure is getting quite the attention these days. It seems that this granulated, activated, ashy celebrity has stolen the spotlight. Instagram is ablaze with picture-worthy activated charcoal-containing foods, such as black scoops of ice-cream atop waffle cones, and seeded black hamburger buns on either side of a beef patty. This ‘coconut ash’ also has been praised to bind toxic drugs and chemicals in the body due to its negative charge, thus pulling out toxins before the stomach can digest them. (Someone has yet to start an all-charcoal diet.)

For similar reasons, bits of charcoal are also being integrated into beauty products in the effort to bind dirt and oils. I’ve seen humans who look like panda bears, mid-exfoliation. Pretty cute. And don’t think I didn’t consider for a moment the use of charcoal sticks in lieu of a water filtration system. In a crazed effort to eliminate plastic use completely while not being open to drinking unfiltered water, I myself fell down a charcoal-obsessed rabbit hole internet search. Drop a stick of charcoal in a jug of water, wait a few hours, and voila!

While I have nothing at all to say about any of these aforementioned things, (except maybe to note that charcoal ice cream temporarily stains your teeth the same color as the pint), I do have a few things to say when it comes to this much celebrated charcoal entering our toothpastes.

Why Put Charcoal in Toothpaste?

Have you seen videos of people brushing their teeth with black globs of sticky stuff and wondered to yourself, “Why put charcoal in toothpaste?” This is especially interesting after divulging the fact that a first date could be complicated by stained teeth from trying charcoal ice cream with a potential future life partner. What would brushing with charcoal before a first date do to you teeth?

Since activated charcoal can bind to things due to its micro-porous nature, it seems that some are of the mind that it can also bind plaque and bacteria and tartar. There is the added benefit of whiter teeth, as well. So, why don’t we dig deeper about these two topics?

Does Charcoal Like Bacteria?

Not any more than we do! Activated charcoal is porous in nature. The thinking behind removing bacteria with activated charcoal is that plaque and micro-organisms will be caught in the pores of the charcoal particles, and thus be removed. Possible, but it seems that it does this at a similar rate as regular old toothpaste would. So, no, there is no special binding relationship between the new celeb and our bacteria.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Detoxify?

There isn’t much claim about the detoxifying nature of charcoal toothpaste. The gums and teeth are not at all similar to your liver and kidneys, which take on the job of clearing your body of toxins. Because of this, the charcoal in toothpaste is not exactly detoxifying your body of anything. Of the same token, for those who are using charcoal toothpaste and are concerned about the charcoal affecting your current medications, rest assured that the charcoal is not in contact with the medications in your digestive tract and therefore has no effect. Unless, off course, you are swallowing the toothpaste rather than spitting it out.

Does Charcoal Actually Make Teeth Whiter?

The simple answer is, “Yes it does”. Bizarre that you can brush with black to make them white! Charcoal is effective in removing surface stains, which isn’t exactly equated to whitening teeth. Surface stains are extrinsic staining on the teeth due to a coffee drinking habit, or the occasional red wine indulgence. These stains reside on the enamel layer which happens to also be the outermost layer of your tooth. Typically, other ‘whitening’ toothpastes remove these stains as well.

However, this isn’t to be equated with whitening teeth. Your teeth can also have intrinsic stains, either caused by trauma, certain medications, weak enamel, or excess fluoride use. These intrinsic stains cannot be removed by toothpaste, with or without charcoal, primarily because the toothpaste will never reach these stains. Whitening of intrinsic staining can only occur from bleaching treatments (whether that’s in-office or over-the-counter) that penetrate past the enamel. But if you wish to use charcoal toothpaste to help reduce stains due to a cold brew habit, then charcoal toothpaste will suffice.

Should We Be Wary of Charcoal Toothpaste?

Unfortunately, charcoal is abrasive. Part of what makes it so good at removing extrinsic stains is the fact that it is rough and can rub off discolorations that are stuck in the pores of your teeth (teeth are porous too!). However, the concern is that charcoal acts like sandpaper rubbing against your teeth. Anyone who has consumed or brushed with charcoal will know the grainy feeling it leaves in your mouth. Like sandpaper, repetitive use of the stuff can abrade parts of the outer enamel layer. The enamel is the strongest part of our bodies (stronger than bone!) and our teeth need it as protection. Removal of the enamel layer will weaken the tooth and cause hypersensitivity. You know those electrifying ‘zings’ you feel after a tooth whitening session? Imagine a permanent version of that if the enamel is removed. Yikes!

Ironically, too, the removal of enamel makes the teeth even more prone to staining for future years to come. Enamel is definitely something we want to protect. If you are planning on using charcoal toothpaste, then consider brushing lightly and gently.

Also, before you declutter your regular toothpaste, may I suggest alternating your charcoal toothpaste with the regular one? Like all trends, charcoal coolness may fade, and you may be once again reaching for your trusty familiar toothpaste brand. At the very least, the alternation will help reduce abrasion to your beautiful, pearly whites. Plus, most charcoal toothpastes do not have fluoride, a good protector of teeth. Fluoride is what helps fight dental decay, and as much as we want white teeth, I am sure you would agree that we want to KEEP our teeth even more.

Since charcoal is a recent celebrity, it is too early to tell what its really about. Better to wait until the tabloids (and research) unearth its true qualities before we fall head over heels for this new star.

The Debtist

Samantha Tillapaugh is a practicing general dentist in Orange County, CA and is a lifestyle blogger at

I’ve made so many simple swaps over the years to be a little more kind to the planet that I hardly think about them now. They’re so ingrained in my day-to-day life, and I’d love for more people to feel the same way (namely, that it's so easy!). 

Please note: This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways I try to save the planet or ways you can save the planet. These are not all the answers, but a starting point. I’ve tagged some products in this post, but I know it’s better to shop locally instead of sourcing all over the internet (so do that if possible!). Also, I love recycling, but I also try hard not to use single-use plastics and add to the problem of where it all goes.

The List

  1. Use reusable bags, folks. Any old tote will do! I also bought a few produce bags a few years back that are lightweight and breathable.
  2. Bring your own water bottle or cup. This is so easy! I have a Corkcicle and a S’well water bottle. Each keep things hot or cold. There’s no need for takeaway coffee cups any longer (also, did you know that most to go coffee cups aren’t recyclable?)!
  3. Use cloth napkins. I just picked up some mustard-colored ones from a local recycled art supply store for next to nothing, that I’ll get years of use from. When they eventually start to fray, I’ll turn them into rags for cleaning.
  4. Dryer balls. My dog thinks these are for him, but they’re mostly for us humans in the house. They reduce static, help clothes dry faster, and don’t contain chemicals. You can add your own scent to them, too, and they’re under $10.
  5. Consider the restaurants you dine out from. Do they offer sustainable to go options? Will they force a million tiny sauce packets on you? Will they put everything in a plastic bag?
  6. Refuse a straw. This one is tough, even though there’s so much info out there about it! Anytime I’m dining out, I ask for no straw in my water. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (because habits are hard to break!). We can only do so much with what we have, but asking for no straw whenever you can is another way to do a little something for those sea turtles.
  7. Meal plan. Buy only what you are going to use and then use it! If my refrigerator looks barren at the end of the week, I feel victorious! Taking a bit of time to plan what you will actually eat saves food as well as money. Seriously.
  8. Don’t use disposable kitchen items! It’s been years since I’ve used aluminum foil, cling wrap, or resealable bags. I seal food in glassware or wrap in a napkin, and I’m doing just fine.
  9. Invest in clothing that will last a lifetime or thrift. I personally love the thrill of thrifting and giving old clothes a second chance, but investing in a well-made piece is another good option when shopping for new clothes.
  10. Recycle and or compost! I do both, and hardly ever take out the trash. Here in Detroit, we’re lucky to have a grassroots compost company who picks up compost weekly, so I don’t have to have a green thumb (or love of worms!) to live more environmentally. I have a big bowl in my freezer where any scraps are tossed for the week, then I pull them out on compost pick up day. My house doesn’t smell and I’m still saving the world, one onion end at a time. But before I found this service, I took my food scraps to my dad's garden. I'm not a gardener, but for years now, I've managed to find a way to compost my food scraps. I feel confident a few of you can, too.

This list is simply something to think about, and maybe a place to start. Have you made small but impactful changes to reduce your footprint? Do you, too, struggle with refusing a straw?

written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

We all know that brushing our teeth is essential to having a wonderful smile. But as much as we are in denial, as much as we resist and kick and scream and throw a tantrum, the truth is that flossing is just as important at keeping our smile healthy. You know what they say; "Floss only the teeth that you want to keep!" It may not be what you wanted to hear, but if it's any consolation, in the modern world, you have tons of flossing options. Today, we discuss the new and shiny water flosser, and how it compares to the old school way of flossing with string.

What Is A Water Flosser?

There are many names for the water flosser, such as water pick or jet floss. Whatever you choose to call it, it is an electric device that shoots pressurized, pulsating water at your teeth. Its mission: to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris around the gums and from in between teeth. It has a water tank connected to a motorized pump, which is attached to a specialized tip that shoots water at an area that you wish to clean. Think of it as a miniature power hose, shooting right at the bad bacteria and yucky food debris, the culprits of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay!

Water Flosser VS String Floss: An Overview

Now that you know what a water flosser is, you may be wondering, "What's the difference?" There are many differences between a water flosser and the traditional string floss. Before you choose which one suits your lifestyle and needs best, here are a few things to consider:

  • Price: String floss will be less expensive than purchasing a water flosser, however, you do have to replace it more often. A typical water flosser can cost anywhere between $30 and $70.
  • Ease of Use: String floss is fairly easy to use, but many find a water flosser to be far more convenient. Since they simply have to point the device towards the area they want cleaned, many people find this much more agreeable than developing a knack for guiding floss between the tight contacts and the unique angles of your teeth. Plus, for those who know they won’t use string floss, a water flosser can be a good alternative. It's definitely better than nothing!
  • Electricity: Most of the water flossers require electricity and thus need to be plugged into an outlet. From a minimalist's standpoint, if you already use an electric toothbrush or other electric bathroom devices, having yet another item on your bathroom counter could prove frustrating. Plus, water flossers are not exactly easily portable devices, which is unfortunate for frequent travelers, such as myself. On the other hand, string flossers can be carried around anywhere, and it's a great habit to always have some in your purse or pocket!
  • Quality of Flossing: As a valuist, I always ask if a product is worth the money in terms of advantages. In other words, will a water flosser clean your teeth better than a string floss can? While this issue continues to be disputed, many dentists will argue that water flossers are great supplements to your oral hygiene routine, but that they cannot fully replace the effectiveness of a string floss used correctly. Speaking of which...

Can Water Flossers Replace String Floss?

Unfortunately, water flossers are fairly new and are just starting to be widely used. As with any novel product, it takes time to gather the data required to make a sound judgement about their efficiency. There is still a fair amount of debate regarding whether or not water flossers can be used to replace flossing the traditional way. Although opinions vary, most dentists (including myself) are not ready to confirm that a water flosser can entirely replace the string floss.

The Debtist x Bogobrush

Clinical studies have found that people who used water floss saw a greater reduction in gum disease and gum bleeding as compared with string floss. So that's good! A water floss is great for the gums because it sprays water and massages the gums, which then increases blood circulation in these areas. Increased blood circulation means that your body can bring anti-inflammatory factors to your gums more, which then reduces bleeding and inflammation of the gums. However, some studies have also shown that while water flossers can remove most debris and bacteria, it is not very good at removing plaque. The amount of pressure required to remove plaque is equivalent to the amount of pressure a power hose needs to remove paint! That's a lot of pressure! Using pressure like that can be very harmful to the gums, which is why most water flossers recommend using the lower settings. Lastly, even though it appears that water flossers can improve gum health, it is not necessarily true for teeth. Some patients are surprised to find that they have cavities after ditching the traditional floss for the water pick. Why does this happen?

The reason is that, while water flossers shoot a stream of water between your teeth and does a great job of removing food particles and rinsing teeth, the string floss, with its scraping motion, does a better job at removing plaque. The scraping motion of the string floss is what removes plaque which, if left on teeth, can eventually become tarter and result in gum disease. Additionally, the water from a water pick cannot wedge itself between tight contacts. Food can easily get stuck right where two neighboring teeth touch. A string is much better at wedging itself in between the contacts and removing the food. For this reason, I believe that string floss is better at preventing cavities and is just as good at preventing gum disease.

Who Should Use Water Flossers Over String Floss?

While most dentists still recommend using string floss, it is true that there are some cases in which individuals will not be able to use string floss.

The following is a list of conditions that make it difficult for individuals to use the traditional floss.

  • Sensitive Gums. People with sensitive gums may find that water flossers are less painful and are more gentle than traditional string floss.
  • Braces. Trying to maneuver string around metal braces can be tough! Water flossers can more easily remove food lodged in between the metal wires.
  • Dexterity issues. Those who have trouble positioning their hands properly in their mouths for string floss will find that water flossers are much easier to use.

In these cases, water flossers take the cake and are a great alternative. It also rings true that for some individuals, they simply will not floss because they dislike it so much. If you are one of these individuals, may I recommend first trying other types of string floss first? Some are easier to use than others. For example, glide ribbon floss will have an easier time getting in between tight, crowded teeth, and moves very smoothly along your gums. If you are looking for an alternative to the mint flavor, I personally recommend Cocofloss. They carry many fun flavors and is a great option for young kids as well, since they make flossing so much fun! That being said, if you know deep down that you really are not going to floss (maybe because you really just can't get into the habit or can't get the hang of it), then using a water flosser is recommended, since it is WAY better than doing nothing at all! At the end of the day, as long as you try your best to floss, your smile is going to thank you for it.

How about you guys? Which flosser do you prefer?

Samantha Tillapaugh is a practicing general dentist in Orange County, CA and is a lifestyle blogger at

1 Million Cups Fargo

July 30, 2018

Heather x Fargo

Earlier this month, Heather presented in Fargo to a crowd of more than 100 very engaged people. She talked about Bogobrush's vision for expanding our giving program and continuing the work of building a company with the values we believe in - eco and social. 

Heather at 1 Million Cups

Heather in her element!

Heather at 1 Million Cups

Heather also got the opportunity to meet Sarah from North Dakota State University's Engineers Without Borders program, who we've been working with as a new giving partner.

Heather with Sarah from NDSU

Fargo has been an awesome community of support for Bogobrush from the very beginning, and Heather felt honored to speak to the community again and share what's to come with Bogobrush. (Hint: new giving partners! New materials!)

If you'd like to see Heather's entire presentation, check out it out here! (Heather comes on at about 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.)

written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

We all know that prevention is better than treatment when it comes to your teeth. Wanting the finest for our teeth, we search for the best gadgets to aid us in making sure our pearly whites are nice and healthy. The most often used tool, and thus your tooth’s best friend, is the handy dandy toothbrush. But when it comes time to select your toothbrush of choice, the wide array of choices sitting on the shelf or available on the net can be very, very overwhelming. Looking at the dilemma from the macro-level, I think the most common fork in the road occurs where we have to choose between a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush. Here, I will review the pros and cons of both options, and then talk about which one I myself choose to use, and why.


When patients come to me and ask if they need an electric toothbrush, many of them are surprised when I tell them that the answer is no. There are a few groups of people who could benefit from an electric toothbrush, but it is not necessary for everyone to have in order to maintain good oral health. Electric toothbrushes greatly benefit people with Parkinson’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other such conditions that could impair one’s ability to hold and maneuver a toothbrush. Spinning and vibrating (and whirling and twirling) bristles are really great at restoring one’s manual dexterity when it has been lost. However, if you do not have any existing conditions that impair movement, then there is likely no need for an electric toothbrush at all.

The Debtist


An electric toothbrush is useful because you’ve got this machine that moves in certain directions to remove the sticky plaque building up on your teeth, but it does have its limitations. Usually, the direction that a toothbrush head spins or vibrates is singular. With manual toothbrushes, you can vary the direction of your brushing at any time, which can be more effective. For example, if your teeth are slightly crooked, an electric toothbrush that only spins in a clockwise direction may miss a particular spot that a manual toothbrush can reach by moving side to side, or up and down. Depending on where the tight corners in your particular dentition are, you can alter the same toothbrush to move different ways in order to reach very difficult areas. Also, the electric brushes are very strong, which some people are not aware of. Using them requires an even softer hand than using a manual brush. Even though the intentions are good, pushing down on an electric toothbrush can cause too much trauma on the gums, causing gum recession. We like gums as much as teeth, so this is no good. Therefore, using an electric toothbrush may seem easier, but easier does not always mean better.


The truth of the matter is, most people would do just fine with a manual toothbrush. I understand that it takes some time (and practice) to learn how to use a manual toothbrush, but the same is true of anything else in your life. Once mastered, the chore becomes a habit, and habits are subconscious and therefore become easy. If you can put in the time and effort to learn how to use a toothbrush effectively, then a manual toothbrush would work equally as well as an electric toothbrush! But, if you do not want to put in the effort to learn how to properly yield a manual toothbrush, then yes, you can buy a gadget and it can do the work for you. It makes sense that the results of inefficient manual toothbrush techniques will be subpar with the results of a vibrating electric device. However, what most people do not understand is that learning how to brush really well can yield results that are as good, and sometimes even better, than your new gadget.


On that note, most patients are surprised to learn that I myself choose to use solely manual toothbrushes. There are many reasons why I opt for the manual brushes. As an advocate of slower-living, a lover of nature and sustainable products, and a fan-girl of the lost art of doing things for ourselves, I am partial towards tooth brushing by hand. Manual toothbrushes give us sustainable product options that are more eco-friendly than their plastic vibrating counterparts. We have manual brushes on the market that are biodegradable, recyclable, or recycled themselves. It allows me to pick a product that is in line with my values and my intention of creating less waste. Additionally, I have more control with a manual toothbrush. I can move the bristles in directions that are good for my particular dentition and I can alter the pressures that I place on my gums a bit easier. And lastly, I find them to be much more cost-effective. My persona as the Debtist easily explains why cost-efficiency is important for me. From a dentist perspective, I understand that we can do just as well with a manual as we can with an electric one.

The Debtist

While electric toothbrushes do have their uses and are a huge help to those who need it, I believe we have gotten to a point where they may be a bit over-hyped (and possibly over-sold) for the sake of convenience. It’s an easy answer to the question, “How do I brush my teeth well?” Instead of teaching people to be better brushers, we are making them dependent on a tool to do the work for them, and the cost is more plastic being introduced into our environment at ever-increasing price as less and less people learn how to effectively brush. I tell patients all the time that we are responsible for our oral health, and we shouldn’t depend solely on spinning brush wheels. We need to take our oral health back into our own hands. Quite literally. And with that, the battle of the brushes continue.

Samantha Tillapaugh is a practicing general dentist in Orange County, CA and is a lifestyle blogger at

Hi everyone!

My name is Samantha Tillapaugh. I am a practicing general dentist in Orange County, California, as well as a lifestyle blogger at When I am not writing or saving the world, one tooth at a time, I am usually finding as many ways as possible to be in nature. I love traveling to other countries, mostly to learn more about other cultures and to broaden my perspective. When I am home, I spend my days making good cups of coffee, baking home-made sourdough bread, reveling in a quiet yoga practice, or reading books on a couch, to quench my unending thirst for more knowledge.

I am known as The Debtist due to the large amount of debt that I accrued going to dental school. The debt has led me to embrace a very simple lifestyle, focused around daily choices that do good for the planet, and the people on it. I went into dentistry with the goal of helping people, and I wanted to extend that past the patients I interact with every day. I recently decided to create a section on my blog where I could share my dental knowledge online, so that my education does not go to waste! I figure that I paid a lot of money to learn all that I know, so that I could share it with my patients, and the world at large, for free.

I am so excited to be partnering with Bogobrush in their quest to make oral health care cool! Your oral health care does not have to be complicated, confusing, or scary. Instead, we want to educate others about their teeth, in order to empower them to take control of their oral health. We want to make it very easy to talk about current, relevant, real-life topics, as well as provide actionable tips that anyone can take to ensure that they have a smile that shines. I hope to shed light on some of the facts (and occasionally, personal opinions), but this is never the final say. I write as a means to share what I know, with an open-ness to learn more. Feel free to express your opinions, ask questions, or to just reach out. With that, we are glad you are here.

Sincerely, Sam.

Bogobrush does good

June 12, 2018

One of Bogobrush's friends, Marcus, told us why he uses Bogobrush. For him, it's all about simplicity.

It’s simple 
1) It does good (it's biodegradable!)
2) It looks good
3) It feels good (the bristles are perfect for my teeth and gums) 

Marcus with his trusty Bogobrush
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Do you have a story of why you Bogobrush? Send us an email, and we'll love to feature you!