Lately I've been feeling a bit lazy and have lost some ground on the JLPT textbooks and Anki usage. However, I have been playing a lot more (Japanese) video games, and I continue to try and do some reading in Japanese. That brings me to the topic of today's post.
One of Khatzumoto's (of AJATT) recent tweets:
Yes! I'm going to approach that a little differently. Say you want to read some news (or just read something) in Japanese, and say your vocabulary and/or grammar are limited. Sitting down with your dictionary and a long article may really help you improve. If you have the time and motivation. But if not, is it better to just do something else? Maybe, but I'd say it's worth skimming. Look up key words and anything else that may strike your fancy, but otherwise just try to get the main idea of what's going on.
I took just that approach with a Yahoo Japan article about fluorine in toothpaste. I recommend aiming for something like this, which isn't too long, is written for a general audience (meaning no extremely technical terminology), and is relatively interesting (as this was for me since I like reading about health).
I would also suggest that for these speed readings you use either the Firefox add-on Rikaichan, or for Chrome its brother extension, Rikaikun. They're useful for getting the readings and meanings of words on the quick, but just be careful not to get too used to them as crutches.
This piece took me all of 5 minutes and I walked away with two or three new vocabulary words:
フッ素 (フっそ) = fluorine
塗る (ぬる) = to coat
弾く (はじく) = to repel
For those of you who are interested in reading or skimming it for yourself, go on. I'll just wait here for you.
Ok, good - now that they're gone, let me summarize the article for the rest of you.
The article is about protecting yourself from cavities with simple fluorine care. It starts off by noting that the amount of fluorine found in commercial products and those in hospitals and dentists' offices are different. How, you wonder? That's what the article is aiming to explain.
First off, it seems that some people think using fluorine on your teeth coats them and protects against things like water and dirt or germs (like waxing a car). Actually, it doesn't have so much to do with protecting the surface of your teeth as it does with aiding the enamel in three ways.
1. It strengthens the enamel.
2. It promotes recalcification (repair; restoration of mineral, calcium in this case).
Finally, what is the difference between commercially-sold toothpaste and the hospital-caliber stuff? The former is limited by law to 1000 ppm (.1%), whereas the doctors' toothpaste packs 9000 ppm (.9%). So if you're worried about getting cavities, you should see your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning with the good stuff.
There you have it.
By the way, I searched several oral care companies' websites but failed to find any fluoride content information. According to Wikipedia, however (the next best thing to solid research), most toothpastes (I presume in the West) contain about 1450 ppm. I guess that may be why we hear about Japanese toothpastes not being as effective - because they have a comparatively lower flouride content.