child brushing teeth

Oral Care at Home

Q: What does proper Home Care mean?

Proper home care involves the combination of having an adequate diet, exercising proper brushing and flossing techniques, and utilizing additional adjuncts such as tongue scraping and rinses. A summary of these various facets of home care is summarized below:

1 Diet

Any food or snack that can become trapped within the pits and grooves of your teeth or between your teeth can become harmful if not cleaned properly. Chewy candy (i.e. taffies, caramels, jellybeans, and licorice) are among the biggest cavity culprits. However, you may be surprised to know that nuts, raisins and dried fruits can also cause a lot of damage, since they too get readily stuck in and around the teeth. The complex carbohydrates such as pretzels and potato chips get broken down into the same sugars that are found in cakes and cookies. Any food debris left on the tooth creates an acid attack in the mouth, which breaks down the enamel and causes cavities to develop. The more time the food takes to dissolve or rinse away, the longer the acid attack will be.


Chocolate, which is full of sugar, is actually not as bad for your teeth as dried fruit and nuts, because chocolate dissolves quickly. However, you can prolong any acid attack by eating or drinking things slowly over a longer period of time. If you can’t get to a brush right away, you should rinse well with water. You can also chew sugar-free gum with xylotol for 5 minutes to help neutralize the acids in your mouth and lift out the debris from within the grooves of your teeth. This is especially important in those individuals with a dry mouth.

2 Brushing

It is recommended that everyone brush at least twice each day with a soft-bristled brush or electric brush. The first time should be in the morning, after breakfast, so your teeth are clean before leaving for school or work. It defeats the purpose of brushing if you eat a sugary vitamin after brushing, or nibble your breakfast on the go, because these substances will stay lodged in the top grooves of your molars and in between your teeth for hours to come, contributing to the formation of cavities. The most important time to brush is right before you go to sleep at night so that nothing is left on or in between your teeth when you are sleeping. The reason is that when you are awake, your saliva helps to bathe and rinse your teeth, but while asleep, you do not salivate that much, and your teeth are more susceptible to developing cavities from the debris left on them. Additionally, if you have the chance to brush after other meals or snacks, it would be advisable. And don’t forget to brush your teeth after taking liquid or chewable medicines, as the sugars and acids contained in medicines may break down the tooth’s enamel.


Electric Toothbrushes vs Manual Toothbrushes
An electric brush has a few advantages over a manual brush. An electric brush generates more brush strokes per second; making it more effective for the amount of time it is being used. Keep in mind that while it is recommended to brush for 2 minutes, the average person only brushes for 30 seconds. With an electric brush it is easier to clean behind the back teeth. Many of these electric brushes have certain extra bells and whistles such as a digital timer so you know when 2 minutes are up, and an indicator light to show if you are pressing too hard. There is usually less trauma to the gums and teeth when brushing with an electric brush since many over-zealous manual toothbrush users bang into their gums with the wrong technique, or scrub too hard.


Oral-B Professional Care Electric Toothbrushes.
Oral-B 3D technology: Professional Care 3000 and 500 remove up to 2x as much plaque as a regular manual toothbrush. Gentle on teeth and gums with pressure sensor that lights up and stops pulsating when brushing too hard. Ask your dentist or hygienist for more information, or visit

A manual toothbrush can be very effective with the right technique, and conversely, an electric toothbrush can be virtually useless with the wrong technique. If using a manual brush, use small, vibratory strokes on a 45 degree angle so that the bristles get in the pockets between the teeth and gums. Avoid the up and down or circular motion, as that can just traumatize the gums. If you are using an electric brush, try to spend at least 2 full seconds on each tooth surface (inside, outside and top), making sure to angle the brush between the teeth and having the bristles go between the teeth and the gums. Spin brushes are just a watered down version of an electric brush that may attract the attention of your child with its various themed versions. Whether you use a manual brush or an electric, make sure you always change your brush or brush head every three months, or sooner if you just had a cold so you don’t re-infect yourself.

brushing teeth
3 Flossing

It is very important to floss your teeth at least once per day (preferably before you go to sleep) to remove food debris and plaque from in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke.

When flossing, be sure to take out a piece about 18 inches long, and gently wrap it around your middle fingers so you have full control and dexterity holding the floss between your thumb and index finger. Then, starting at the base of the gums, work the floss in a circular motion scraping the plaque upwards, away from the gums. Don’t forget to wrap the floss around the corner line angles of the tooth where the plaque builds up.

4 Toothpastes

Toothpastes, coupled with the proper brushing action is an effective way to remove plaque. Plaque is a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth and causes cavities, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss if it is not controlled. Toothpastes containing fluoride make the entire tooth structure more resistant to tooth decay. Toothpastes also help to remove superficial stains, and leave your mouth with a clean, fresh feeling. It doesn’t matter what kind of toothpaste you use, as long as it contains fluoride.

5 Other Dental Aids

You'll never get your teeth quite as clean at home as your dentist or hygienist can. However, you can get a much better result by using an electric toothbrush, and a water flosser. These are our "preferred products":


Oral-B ProfessionalCare 8900 DLX OxyJet Oral irrigator with innovative micro-bubble technology.
The Oral-B ProfessionalCare 8900 DLX OxyJet Center combines the Oral-B ProfessionalCare 7850 DLX power toothbrush and an oral irrigator with innovative micro-bubble technology. The OxyJet irrigator mixes air and water, then pressurizes it to form millions of micro-bubbles designed to attack plaque bacteria.
• Helps you brush for two minutes
• Can be used for site specific oral medicament delivery
• Ideal for: Bridges, implants and fixed orthodic appliances.


The Aquaflosser is a high tech personal hygiene appliance that sprays a pulsating jet of water, which can be used for a regular daily flossing session as well as for more complicated cleaning of implants braces and crowns. Liquids have the ability to penetrate far deeper than manual cleaning methods giving the overall feeling of a healthier, cleaner mouth.

Mouth rinses
Other dental aids that work very well are pre-brushing rinses, and post brushing antiseptic mouthwashes designed to help kill germs between your teeth. Water Jet Irrigators, are effective for cleaning in between teeth, especially when one does not have the dexterity for flossing properly.


Proxybrushes (interdental brushes are designed to remove plaque and debris in open areas between the teeth) and Stimudents (very thin plastic toothpick) are also great adjuncts for removing debris that gets trapped between the teeth.


Tongue scraping
Your tongue is the most retentive surface in your mouth, and is quite adept at harboring bacteria within its Velcro-like surface. It is the anaerobic bacteria and volatile sulfur compounds trapped in these surfaces that give off the oral malodor. Tooth brushing alone does not clean our mouths, and mouth rinses only mask the bad breath for a short period of time. It has been found that 90% of halitosis (bad breath) originates from the mouth, with 80% coming from the posterior third of the tongue. Brushing the posterior of the tongue will stimulate a gag reflex. The only definite way to remove those volatile sulfur compounds is to scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper designed to reach that area.

Q: Should I floss before or after brushing my teeth?

It is recommended that you floss after you brush. Flossing before brushing can be very messy for most people. Additionally, flossing in a mouth that has a lot of debris can only serve to introduce more bacteria into the gum pockets. If you brush very well, you should be able to visualize what they are trying to accomplish with the floss.

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