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.
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.
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.
My name is Samantha Tillapaugh. I am a practicing general dentist in Orange County, California, as well as a lifestyle blogger at thedebtist.com. 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.
ON APRIL 22, FIFTEEN DETROITERS GATHERED for the Earth Day Clean Up we sponsored with The Collective at True North. Armed with work gloves, and garbage bags of all shapes and sizes, this crew ventured into the endless blocks of trash near the Core City neighborhood in Detroit.
We picked up garbage for 2 hours, and made our way through only 1 city block. One block! We ended up with 2 mounded pick-up loads, and nearly 50 bags of trash. Plenty of garbage was not even accessible through the brambles of bushes, or were rubber tires that need special pick-up. But, it's pretty amazing how cleaning up affects the neighborhood.
After the event, Bre (co-founder of The Collective) was closing up and a neighbor came out and shared this touching story:
"I'm 84 years old and have lived on the street for 50 years. I saw people outside and just had to come out and say thank you for taking time to do something about the trash in the area. I raised 10 kids in this house and now I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren! This little corner of Detroit used so vibrant; filled with cafes and shops. It makes me feel so happy to see all the new things coming to the area and that the people moving in truly care about bringing the neighborhood back."
Every bit matters. <3
Thanks to all the Detroiters who came out for Earth Day. Stay tuned for another clean-up event later this summer.
Bogobrusher and Wefunder Investor, Scott, recently shared with us his story for being a Bogobrush fan. Scott is a self-described "recovering mechanical engineer" with decades of experience creating sustainable buildings. His story is both practical and endearing. Read on. :)
So, why did I invest in Bogobrush on Wefunder in the first place? Often people, companies, and organizations feel overwhelmed when faced with improving sustainability. It is a huge issue and we often feel very small or not impactful enough. One of the concepts that I present (and the hundreds of engineers that worked for me over the years heard over and over and...well you get it) is any number times a big number is a big number.
When we first started Bogobrush, one guiding rule was that everything we create should benefit the planet, and the people who live on it. To benefit the planet, we committed to bring products into the world that would never end up in a landfill. To benefit people, it meant those products had to be uncompromising in their quality, cleaning your teeth as well or better than any toothbrush on the market. What we quickly realized was that there were plenty of "eco" toothbrushes that promised to be good for the environment, but completely failed at their task of cleaning teeth.
450 million toothbrushes end up in US landfills every year
We knew that there had to be a way to make a product responsibly, locally, and sustainably that still functioned perfectly. The book, Cradle to Cradle had long been an inspiration to us, and we followed the process to create two collections of products: A Recycled plastic toothbrush that can recycled over and over again, and a Biodegradable composite toothbrush that is made from plants, and can be composted at the end of it's life.
We were beyond fortunate to meet our friends and partners at C2renew who were innovating in the science of bio-composites, and were willing to try their new materials out on our humble toothbrush.
With our Naked Flax collection, you will get a product with zero compromise for the planet, or your smile. If you haven't already, give your daily routine an upgrade, and say goodbye to the landfill by getting your hands on a toothbrush that is designed to be different. Order your Bogobrush here, and start brushing better.
We are suckers for good tooth fairy tales. The following story comes from a family in John and Heather's home town. (For privacy, the character's names are changed to "Mom" and "Daughter.") :)
Midori Yamada, "tooth fairy"
IT WAS A MAGICAL DAY when Daughter lost her first tooth. Mom told her to place it under her pillow while she slept so the Tooth Fairy would collect it and leave her a bit of money. Daughter was very eager so she did exactly as Mom instructed. Unfortunately, Mom forgot about the Tooth Fairy that night. In the morning, Daughter asked her mom why the Tooth Fairy didn't come. Mom, hoping for a path for redemption, told Daughter the Tooth Fairy sometimes needs two nights to get it all done.
THE SECOND NIGHT, Mom woke up at 4am and realized she still hadn't put the Tooth Fairy's money under Daughter's pillow. She fumbled for her wallet, opened it and reached for two $1 bills. Careful to not wake Daughter, Mom quietly tucked the bills under Daughter's pillow. Pleased with her work, Mom fell back asleep.
The next morning, Daughter flew open her bedroom door and exclaimed, "Mom! The Tooth Fairy brought me $21 dollars!"
"Mom! The Tooth Fairy brought me $21 dollars!"
Sorry, Mom. Daughter got the jackpot with that one. :) Send us a tooth fairy story of your own and we'll be glad to feature it!
"I SHOWED UP TO SUPPORT AN ISSUE I CARE ABOUT. I LEFT REFUELED IN MY PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE PLANET AND MY FELLOW HUMANS." - Heather McDougall, Bogobrush co-founder and ceo
On April 29th, my husband David and I stepped into the Mall in Washington D.C. for our first ever D.C. march. We had driven from Detroit to march with more than 200,000 other Americans in the People's Climate March. It was the hottest April 29th on record in D.C. - over 90 degress F - and still we all marched, almost further empowered by the unordinary heat, from the Capitol Building, to the White House and then to the rally at the Washington Monument.
When I reflect on that day, my mind floods with ideas for continuing the ripple effect of the march. In the coming weeks and months, I'll work on bringing those ideas to life. My first step is this post to share my experience with you, including: the march, the rally for climate justice, the reminders of my passion and how honored I am to connect with you. Read it all or scroll to pick and choose. :)
The organizers created a nifty line-up guide structured for us to line up with a theme group of our choice. Despite their encouragement to not worry about a perfect fit, I still wondered, "Where do I belong? I'm a woman, but do I belong in the "Creators of Sanctuary" group? What about Dave? Or, maybe I'm a health community member because of Bogobrush and because I teach yoga. Or am I better fit for the general environmental activist group?"
Before the march kicked off, we surveyed the scene by starting at the end of the lineup. The experienced D.C. marchers were obvious with signs rigged up perfectly on poles and backpacks and parachutes with messaging visible from a birds-eye view.
We first nestled into the Keepers of Faith group. We were surrounded by every religion you can think of: Buddhist, Lutheran, Unitarian, Hindu, Islam, Episcopal, Agnostic, and more. Everyone's message was the same: We are stewards of God's creation and must rise to the occasion to protect and honor it. We spent a bit of time with the Defenders of Truth, but as we started to march the groups merged and we saw that the organizers were right: it really didn't matter who surrounded us as long as we showed up.
"WE ARE STEWARDS OF EARTH - GOD'S CREATION - AND WE MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION TO PROTECT AND HONOR IT." - Keeper's of Faith
In the final blocks of the march, we found ourselves behind a group carrying a banner that stretched across the entire road. Their energy was vibrant, their chants were sincere, and their ethnicity diverse. When we reached the end, we walked to the front of the banner and read, "Minnesotans for Climate Justice." This seemed serendipitous since Minnesota is where David and I went to school, got married, and started our adult life together. <3 Aww shucks. :)
Keeper's of Faith marchers
Minnesotans for Climate Justice
People from all walks of life, career, age, and ethnicity were on the street together. No matter the perspective, the goal for this march was clear: Climate Justice.
The reality of climate change is that it disproportionately affects people in poverty and developing nations more than people in wealth and developed nations. Why? Because wealth and development shields people from the immediate affects of a changing climate. For instance, in America, companies can still produce or import food, and ensure access to water and energy regardless of global weather. In poor communities and developing nations, however, the populations are directly impacted by drought and severe weather.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE NEW COLONIALISM
Unfortunately, the problem is made worse because often times companies in developed nations exploit the people and land of poor nations in order to deliver their products to their own wealthy countries. This problem has led many people to suggest that "climate change is the new colonialism."
Rally at the Washington Monument
Rather than choose speakers who are flashy celebrities, organizers of this rally intentionally chose leaders of grassroots movements and organizations around the world. Their perspectives were broad, but my takeaway is simple:
The government isn't always going to prioritize the climate, and most corporations won't prioritize the climate unless it makes economic sense. While these can be a depressing thoughts, I think they're also empowering. They are evidence that, at least in America, people are power and we are capable of unbound influence.
...PEOPLE ARE POWER, AND WE ARE CAPABLE OF UNBOUND INFLUENCE.
After the march, I was eating food truck tacos under the shade of a giant tree when I met a lady who was marching that day for her grandchildren. I learned that she, as a teenager, witnessed first-hand the power of the people while protesting during the Migrant Worker Protests in California in the 1960s. At that time, leader Cesar Chavez helped organize a nationwide boycott of California grapes to put economic pressure on the grape producers to change their practices with the migrant workers. Within weeks, the producers agreed to listen to the workers demands. After five years, the strike resulted in a massive victory and collective bargaining agreement for the workers.
Climate is a massive issue. It's more than fossil fuels, more than CO2 or Methane emissions, and more than any one policy, person, or product. It's the connection between environment and humanity, and between local and global efforts. This can seem daunting at times, but this rally reminded me that it's these connections that inspire me.
"YOU CAN'T BE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST WITHOUT BEING A HUMANITARIAN" - Sahel, band at rally
These are the connections behind our creation of Bogobrush: a product that considers the environment and contributes to social issues. A product that gives me (and you) a choice, a way to contribute to progress.
Bogobrushers, I am honored to connect with you - even if remotely through a toothbrush - and work together in this critical effort for fighting for our climate, for humanity, for our Mother Earth. Let's keep on rocking it, team. We'll get there together!
Above: The head of the march during line-up. Below: fellow-protesters
editorial 2016, hannah kang
Welcome back to our Mind of an Illustrator series with Hannah Kang! In Part 1, we chatted with Hannah about the path that led her to illustration and how it evolved into work for Bogobrush. In this Part 2, we're exposing the inner genius of Hannah's creative process. Enjoy!
HANNAH KANG: The best ideas come to me serendipitously right before going to bed or during my sacred time, in the shower haha! Basically, a moment of genius comes for a visit when it’s not really ideal, when I’m far away from my sketchbook! But these tend to be the best ideas and I can’t ignore them, no matter if I have my PJs on. I would get these flashes of inspiration but this only happens when I’m lucky. Otherwise, I often find myself being creatively constipated, unable to let the creativity flow when I do have my sketchbook open and ready to receive an inspiration. When I’m not so lucky, I try to remedy this by looking at illustrations I admire by other illustrators or pictures, funny lines from movies/books and sometimes, this will allow magical moment to happen and spark an idea.
"BASICALLY, A MOMENT OF GENIUS COMES FOR A VISIT WHEN IT'S NOT REALLY IDEAL; WHEN I'M FAR AWAY FROM MY SKETCHBOOK!"
HK: Yes, almost 99% of the time. :) It all starts from a hand sketch and I’ll either leave it as the rough and loose hand sketch for that authentic charm or crank up my OCD and refine and clean up all those hairy lines by overlaying the scanned drawing and finishing them in a digital format.
nursery animals series, 2013 hannah kang
HK: I am normally terrible at estimating how long/short a project will take. I tend to get overambitious and underestimate the time. Rarely do I overestimate how long a project will take and and to my surprise, end up finishing it in a short amount of time.
HK: Mechanical pencils, tracing paper for producing clean inked line drawing (nib and ink) as an overlay of the original loose pencil sketch, photoshop, illustrator, watercolor brushes, etc.
hitch hiker 2010, hannah kang
HK: The more color, the better it is! I let my inner child go crazy with bright colors! No shame, no holding back :) Typically, I have a pinterest board with color combination I love and will use them as a reference or any packaging design from stores I find that I love. Generally, I love using bright pastel colors because they make me happy when I paint with bright fun colors :)
do the donk 2014, hannah kang
HK: Whimsical, playful and sometimes simple to minimal and sometimes, very detailed.
HK: Besides Bogobrush, I have done some freelance illustrations for other local businesses including art for a drink coaster series and some fun collaborations with my friends at Woodward Throwbacks. I do wedding invitations, too!
woodward throwbacks 2015, hannah kang
wedding invitation 2016, hannah kang
Having these fun wall paper/wrapping paper like illustration pattern on the packaging for a limited edition or something that could be used as a backdrop for promoting Bogobrush in magazine spreads… Or doing any posters for Bogobrush and let my creativity loose!
limited edition prints, 2017 hannah kang
TO LEARN MORE, visit Hannah's website. And, if you love her work, spread the love and share her name. <3
Thank you, Hannah, for your creativity, talent, and Bogobrush love!
Hannah Kang is an illustrator and designer living in downtown Detroit, MI. Born in Lubbock, Texas, she bounced around the world to South Korea, New Jersey, and Paris, France, before landing in Detroit. With this exposure behind her, she has a diverse blend of cultural influences to pull from with her art. Hannah is married to Bogobrush co-founder, John, and we are so proud that she shares her gifts as Bogobrush's illustrator.
In this Part 1 of 2, we're exploring Hannah's path to illustration and how she's channeled that into Bogobrush. In Part 2, we'll go deeper into her process and the genius of her work.
HANNAH KANG: I guess you could say ever since I was little :) I was always drawing as a kid, and dreamed of being a famous painter. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of spending days soaking in every painting at the national art museums in Seoul. But technically, I suppose I knew I was an illustrator when I was studying design at the College for Creative Studies. I was there to study car design, but seeing the work from the illustration department brought me back to those days studying every brush stroke at the museum, and I decided to take an extra year in school to minor in illustration.
HK: Illustration is a simpler and more amusing way to connect to viewers than traditional fine art. To me, it bridges my silly imagination/the message I’m trying to convey easily to the viewers rather than getting too serious like fine art. Of course, it can be serious as well which is why I think it’s more versatile form/expression of Art.
HK: I love a wide range of styles in illustration. I haven’t really come across the styles I really do not resonate with. I’m easy to please despite what my husband thinks ;-) I’m only a harsh critic to myself and maybe to my husband, hah!
limited edition prints, 2017, signed by hannah kang
HK: The simple design form with fun color ways help me come up with whimsical/playful illustrations. Typically, I tend to have an easier and fun time with the process if it’s a brand I resonate with my personal aesthetic taste and Bogobrush definitely falls in that category ;) Because of this, the creativity seems to have flowed pretty easily and thanks to Heather and John who encouraged my silly visions without any restrictions, I was able to come up with something that makes people smile or even giggle!
The very first project I did was during Bogobrush's pre-order campaign in 2013, and it was for a poster series of playful Bogobrush characters. I did another poster series for a Give Tour the company did at the end of 2014. For that series, I explored a different style of illustration. I designed landscapes unique to each city they visited on the tour. The landscapes were so detailed it took a lot of time. I think detail can be fun, though, so it wasn't bad. :)
pre-order campaign poster series, 2013 hannah kang
give tour minnesota poster, 2014 hannah kang
HK: I envisioned fun ways of delivering toothbrushes as if you would see them in an animation/short film. It started off with storks delivering toothbrushes and I thought it was too cliche and overdone. It evolved into my silly imagination of these toothbrushes jumping out of the planes, with a parachute, landing themselves in front of people’s doormat, personifying them as these cleverly skilled squad of toothbrushes, ready to serve the people and their teeth.
"...CLEVERLY SKILLED SQUAD OF TOOTHBRUSHES, READY TO SERVE THE PEOPLE AND THEIR TEETH."
All images courtesy of Hannah Kang.