Oral Hygiene

How Best to Brush

woman brushing her teethWhen brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle, where the gums and teeth meet. Then move the brush back and forth several times in a circular motion using short, gentle strokes. Employ light pressure when placing the bristles between the teeth, but never so much pressure that you feel any discomfort. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions to clean the inside surfaces of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes from the gums tissue to the teeth. Don’t forget to gently brush the gums.

Next, you should clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To accomplish this, use short, gentle strokes brushing back and forth. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. To ensure you clean each surface, try to watch yourself in the mirror. After you’re done, rinse to remove any plaque you may have loosened while brushing.

Should you experience any pain while brushing or if you have any questions about how to brush properly, please don’t hesitate to call the office.

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How Best to Floss

man flossing his teethPeriodontal disease tends to begin between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is the most effective means of removing plaque from those surfaces. It is important however to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help but remember; to floss effectively takes time and practice.

There is no one form of floss that is remarkably superior to any other floss. Varieties of floss include waxed or unwaxed, flavored, coated floss with fluoride and in some cases, even whitening agents. Although Dr. Novack may recommend a particular type of floss based upon your specific circumstance, generally it is best to find a type of floss that you feel most comfortable using. What is critical is remembering to floss twice daily, once in the morning (AM) and again at night (PM) after your last meal of the day.

Start with a strand of floss about a ½ meter long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the remainder of the floss around the middle finger of your other hand. To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.

Gently insert the floss between the teeth using a back-and-forth sawing motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it into place. Bring the floss to the gum line and then curve it into a C-shape against the side of one tooth. Then slide the floss into the space between the gum and tooth (pocket) until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember, there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss along each side of all your upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gums while flossing between your teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn the floss from one finger to the other to expose a fresh section.

To clean between your bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands. Don’t forget the back surface of the last tooth on both sides of your upper and lower jaws.

When you are done, rinse again with water to remove any plaque and food particles you may have been dislodged. Don’t be alarmed if during the first week of flossing, your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing, you may be flossing too hard or pinching the gum. Don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Novack should you have any concerns. Rest assured that once the plaque that has infected your gums is removed, healing will begin and the bleeding should stop.

Caring For Sensitive Teeth

It is not uncommon following periodontal treatment for teeth to become sensitive to hot and more especially cold. Keeping your mouth meticulously clean will decrease sensitivity. On the other hand, if oral hygiene is inadequate, sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult Dr. Novack. A desensitizing treatment, specialized rinse or tooth paste for sensitive teeth may be recommended.

Choosing the Right Oral Hygiene Products

There exist a myriad of oral hygiene products currently on the market and choosing right for you can be a daunting task. Effective daily brushing and flossing are crucial to achieving optimal oral health. It is important however not to employ too heavy handed an approach that could cause excessive wear. Dr. Novack will suggest a personalized oral hygiene program best tailored to meet your individual needs. Below are some general suggestions when selecting oral care products.

Manual Toothbrushes

If used properly, the current generation of manual toothbrushes can achieve a profound improvement in your oral health. It has been universally accepted that a soft rounded tip brush is best. Using a medium or worse yet, hard bristle brush can and likely will cause traumatic damage to both your gums and teeth. Although generally any size toothbrush will work at the front of the mouth, a smaller brush head is recommended to negotiate those hard to reach areas especially when brushing the inside and back surfaces of your teeth.

Finally, the choice of a manual brush handle can greatly impact on the ease and effectiveness of its use. Especially for individuals suffering from arthritis or with manual dexterity issues, choosing a manual brush with a wider diameter handle and a more secure grip will likely prove a better choice.

Nearly everyone suffers from too little time in their lives. Although from a theoretical standpoint a manual toothbrush can if used correctly clean one’s teeth as effectively as the latest generation of electronic toothbrushes, there is no question that a manual toothbrush requires more time, greater precision and diligence to approach the cleaning ability of today’s high-tech automatic electronic toothbrushes.

Automatic Electronic Toothbrushes

Automatic high-tech electronic toothbrushes have been proven safe and effective. New oral hygiene products are constantly being introduced to market. It is a challenge for dental professionals let alone the layperson to keep abreast of new technologies and thereafter, define which product or products provide the greatest oral health benefits, safety, product durability and value. As a benefit to our patients, Dr. Novack on an ongoing basis evaluates the scientific literature to keep current on these developments to better advise our patients which product(s) would best serve their specific oral care needs.

Oral B® PRO 5000 Smart Series Electronic Toothbrush with Smart Guide

Although other electronic toothbrushes exist in the marketplace, Dr. Novack has seen excellent results in our patients who use electronic toothbrushes, especially the Oral-B PRO Smart Series with Smart Guide®.Optimal tooth brushing requires not merely an advanced toothbrush, but also the appropriate brushing technique. The Smart Guide Quadrant Timer® prompts you after 30 seconds to change quadrants thus encouraging you to brush thoroughly across all four areas (quadrants) of your mouth. A full 2 minutes twice daily is recommended. It can be difficult to know for certain if you are brushing with the right amount of pressure. A visual pressure sensor illuminates to provide an alert when you are brushing too hard thereby protecting your gums. The specialized brush heads unique to the Oral B PRO Series® accommodates a variety of brush heads (i.e. CrossAction®, Sensitive Gum Care® and Power Tip®).  Dr. Novack and his staff will guide you on which brush would be best suited for your situation while thoroughly cleaning even those hard to reach places.

Oral Irrigators

It has been well established that oral irrigators (water spray devices) merely rinse your mouth. Although food and debris can be dislodged, irrigators do not remove plaque. There exists the potential if used incorrectly for an oral irrigator, due to its high pressure stream of water to ram plaque and debris below the gum line and precipitate development of a periodontal abscess. For this reason, Dr. Novack strongly advises patients not use oral irrigation devices.

Rubber Tip and Interproximal Brushes

Certain patients derive benefits from the use of a rubber tip that massages the gums after brushing. Dependent upon your gum anatomy and the size of the spaces between your teeth, Dr. Novack may also recommend an interproximal brush (Proxybrush®).

Rubber Tip Stimulator
Interproximal brush (Proxybrush®)


We are indeed fortunate that the vast majority of communities in Ontario have fluoridated water supplies. This government sponsored public health initiative has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the cavity (caries) rate. Even if you are relatively resistant to decay, the use of a fluoride containing toothpaste can provide significant benefits not merely by reducing the potential for decay through a strengthening of the enamel, but in reducing thermal (hot and cold) sensitivity. Many of our patients who have suffered a loss of jawbone support and a commensurate exposure of the roots of their teeth experience some measure of thermal sensitivity. The daily use of a fluoride supplemented toothpaste can help reduce thermal sensitivity,

Should sensitivity become a more profound issue, desensitizing toothpastes when used appropriately can overtime reduce, if not eliminate, your sensitivity and thus improve your quality of life. Please advise Dr. Novack should thermal sensitivity represent an issue for you. He will be glad to share advice as to the specific toothpaste and desensitizing options that would provide the best reduction in your symptoms.

Tartar control toothpastes have been developed to reduce tartar (calculus) accumulation above the gum line. Unfortunately, since gum disease spreads below the gum line, such products have not been proven effective at controlling even the early stages of gum disease. Dependent upon your unique susceptibility to calculus formation, gum inflammation or tooth decay, Dr. Novack would be glad to recommend the toothpaste best suited for your specific situation.

NeutraCare® – Fluoride Gel

Dependent upon your susceptibility to tooth decay, Dr. Novack may recommend a nightly fluoride mouth gel. Research has shown that the daily use of a fluoride gel can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. Fluoride supplements are however not recommended for children under six years of age.

Dr. Novack is the best person to help you select the oral health care products that are right for you.