What is better to use for brushing teeth, toothpaste or baking soda?
It could be it’s better to use just a nice brush and water. If you use enough muscle and you brush long enough, it could be it removes more plaque. It could be that the toothpaste puts chemicals in your mouth and it deceives you. You think you’re doing a good job and actually there remains sticking between your teeth some of that sugar and it helps your teeth to decay.
Now I’m not an expert on that, but I just wanted to advance a proposal, the proposition that water and a toothbrush can do a good job. Toothpaste is mostly propaganda. It’s the ads. I’m not saying it’s wrong to use it. You have kosher toothpaste. You’re helping out the kosher people making a living, but there are a lot of things we do only as a result of propaganda.
But this I would say. המגלגלין זכות על ידי זכאי; you asked this question so this I will say: It’s important to brush your teeth! Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “I give you property and I want you to guard your property.”
Now that’s a Gemara in Chullin (105a). The Gemara there tells us that a chacham once said, אנא לגבי אבא – “I compared to my father, חלא בר חמרא – I am vinegar the son of wine. My father was wine, but I’m vinegar. Why? Because my father used to inspect his property every day. I only do it once a week.” The son used to inspect his house and his fields only once a week. That’s why he’s vinegar. His father inspected it every day.
Now, to us it seems the opposite. His father had less bitachon. This man has more bitachon. Only once a week he inspects. He relies on Hakodosh Boruch Hu. No. Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants you to guard the property. You know why? It’s not your property. His father said, “It’s not my property. I’m only holding it for Hashem. How can I be careless?” So his father was so conscientious as a gizbar, as a treasurer for Hashem, that he inspected the property every day. He was an oived Hashem.
Now Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave you teeth. It’s property of Hashem. And He wants you to take care of your teeth. One tooth, if it falls out, costs 350 dollars to replace with a false tooth; and it costs about five visits to the dentist.
So therefore it’s Hashem’s property. You shouldn’t waste it. So brush your teeth especially before you go to sleep. Let that stuff rot between your teeth all night and it’s going to cause your teeth to decay.
And that’s why I say, a frum Jew does things other people don’t think about. A frum Jew has to brush his teeth. It’s a big chiddush. You are mechuyav to guard that property. ושמרתם את נפשותיכם – you should guard yourselves. It doesn’t mean only you should guard yourself that you shouldn’t be killed chalilah by a car. Because if a tooth gets rotten, sometimes it takes a man’s life too. Sometimes chalilah the gums become inflamed and inflammation spreads to the brain. It has happened already. It happened more than once. Or other things could happen. Sometimes an abscessed tooth can poison the whole system.
So Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, ושמרתם – you should guard. ‘It’s not your body. It’s My body. I loaned it to you only for a certain time so take good care of it.’
So therefore, whether you’re going to use this medium or that medium, but make sure you brush your teeth. And it’s a good thing sometimes to use a toothpick too to pick out the food between the teeth. Floss if you wish. Nothing should remain sticking in those crevices where it could rot and cause decay in enamel.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants that. And teach your children that. Get it into their blood that they must brush their teeth every day. If they drink sodas or eat sweets, teach them to rinse their mouth to get rid of that sugar; because otherwise that’s going to rot the teeth.
It’s such an important lesson that I’m so glad this person asked this question; he gave me an excuse to dilate on this subject because you cannot talk too much about it.
It’s a tragedy. A man approaches you, a nice man with a nice beard, and he opens his mouth to talk divrei Torah and you have to move away five feet from the force of violence of his breath. He has rotten teeth. A rachmanus. And I pity his poor wife. He gets close to his wife and gives her a blast.
And so please have rachmanus on yourselves, besides on your wives, and brush your teeth religiously. I say that word intentionally. It’s a mitzvah! You’re being oived Hashem. Of course keep in mind you’re doing it for avodas Hashem. You have to take care of your body and the teeth should not be neglected.
TAPE # 648 (August 1987)