The secret of the pink pointy tip on the end of toothbrushes…..revealed!
How many of you remember that obnoxious pointy pink tip that was on the end of the butler toothbrush? Most of us hadn’t any idea what it was and what it was used for, besides being in the way. Today I’m going to reveal its secret and help you change your dental health forever! That pink tip is called the rubber tip stimulator. After many of years, Butler/GUM has taken that tip and has placed it on its own shiny gold handle along with directions on the back of its packaging. What? Directions too? Yes, which I will review in this article as well as tell you why this dental tool is a must-have for all dental patients.
Now knowing the name of that pink tip, let’s get into the reason why we would we need to use the rubber tip stimulator. Simple answer, gum infection! Gum infection is also known as gingivitis, a mild case of gum disease known as periodontal disease. It causes irritation, redness and swelling of your gum and if left untreated gingivitis can become a serious gum infection that will lead to tooth loss, and even worse it can destroy the jawbone (bone loss). Over the years as a dental hygienist I have asked each patient at the beginning of their appointment “is there anything that’s bothering you teeth or gum wise such as pain, sensitivity or bleeding?” Patient’s have no problem remembering to tell the dentist about pain or sensitivity, but when it comes to bleeding, almost everyone fails to mention it. They believe it’s normal to have bleeding in the mouth, when in fact it is the first sign of an infection and can become a serious problem if left untreated.
There are several common causes of a gum infection. The first one, many people experience almost daily, is having something stuck or caught between their teeth or below the gum line. Most of the time we grab out the floss or a toothpick and try to get whatever it is out. After working on the area for what seems like hours, the gum still feels sore and continues to bleed, meaning something more is needed to help that gum through the healing process and that something is the rubber tip stimulator. Don’t worry, I’ll explain why that is in just a little bit. Another reason we may end up with a gum infection are by foreign objects or materials used in our mouths. What do I mean by foreign objects or materials? Anything that is inside your mouth that does not originally belong there such as fillings, crowns, bridges, implants, or other restorative dental work. On some patients, their gum tissue is unhappy to have these materials in their mouth and it may remain irritate or inflamed around the tooth unless we do something more to prevent this, like using a rubber tip. Lastly, the most common cause of a gum infection is improper oral hygiene, such as daily brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups. If plaque is not removed correctly, it builds up along the gumline creating an irritation caused by bacteria leading to a gum infection. I’d also like to mention that there are other causes that we may experience gingivitis such as hormone changes, malnutrition, pregnancy, chemotherapy and several other health-related issues.
So how does the rubber tip stimulator help with clearing up all of these gum infections and prevent periodontal disease? Most dental tools only help by removing plaque and bacteria around the gum line, but the rubber tip is also a massager for the mouth. Who doesn’t love a good massage?! When performed properly the massage will stimulate blood flow to the area to help with healing. This increase in blood flow brings nutrient-rich blood to the infected tissue to help fight infection and improve overall health. How does this work in the mouth? Bacteria thrives in an environment with little to no oxygen and if you bring blood to the area that is filled with oxygen during the massage, it can help kill many of these bacteria.
The rubber tip stimulator isn’t difficult to use but it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t a replacement for tooth brushing or flossing. Unlike brushing and flossing the rubber tip only needs to be done once a day, any time during the day. As I tell my patients, do it while you were sitting watching TV or playing on a computer, tablet, or phone. It only takes a minute or two of your time each day, your gum tissue will thank you for doing it. To use the rubber tip, guide the tip between the teeth, hold the handle at a 45° angle towards your gum tissue, allowing as much of the rubber tip as you can to rest against your gums, press and massage your gums gently in a circular motion or wiggle for about 10 seconds. Repeat these steps on each tooth both on the outside and inside. If done properly your gum tissue will have blanched out, appearing whitish in color, when pressure was applied and after releasing the pressure the tissue then turned a deeper red. If you see this happen, you know you did it correctly and that you just allowed the nutrient-rich blood to rush to the area to help with healing, strengthening, and tightening of your gums.
Where to find the rubber tip stimulator and what to use if you don’t have one? The majority of my patients end up with one at some point. Almost all stores will carry them in the dental aisle and now that you have an idea what they look like and what they are used for you will definitely be able to find one, or when in doubt Google it. Lately, supplies are short and hard to find due to crazy events in our lives. If you cannot find a rubber tip stimulator in a store you actually have the next best thing already conveniently at your disposal, your index finger. Crazy, right? When using your index finger as a massager all you need to do is position your finger along the gumline, apply some pressure, and wiggle it for 10 seconds. This is enough stimulation to get the blood flowing and to help with fighting any infection that may be going on in that area. I also want to quickly mention one more dental tool briefly that helps with stimulation, these are the soft picks. Made by GUM as well, Soft picks are like a little sister to a rubber tip stimulator but more travel size by combining a rubber tip, toothpick, and proxabrush together. You use it like a toothpick to clean in between the teeth, the bristles grab onto the plaque, you then add a little pressure onto the gum and move it in a little circle or wiggle just enough to get that stimulation going.
When it comes to replacing your rubber tip it all depends on how often you use it. You will notice the tip dries out and becomes hard over period of time. Replacement tips are available for the handles but I suggest not wasting your time or money purchasing these because over the years I’ve had patients complain that they fit loosely and fall off.
If you have any questions regarding this topic feel free to ask us at your next dental visit.
Until then, remember happy gums mean happy bone, happy teeth, and a very happy hygienist and dentist…