Oral Wellness “I.T.” Tips on Tools, Technique and Toothbrushes

Barbara Tritz
· September 11, 2018 ·

10 minutes

“Oh, no, not the floss lecture again”… I know that’s what you secretly think every time you see  your favorite dental hygienist.

You hate flossing- I get that.  It’s hard to do properly.  A patient told me last week, as I did demonstrated flossing to her (it was okay with her, I asked permission) my fingers looked like I was performing a miniature Cirque du soleil act.  My own daughter still doesn’t know how I floss.  Oh dear!

So, today’s post is about other tools, tricks, tips and techniques for bettor oral wellness, and then an easy primer on how to floss properly and easily.  Hope these are helpful.  I know I’ve written about this before but thought it was time to upgrade, review, and show you what I personally use.  Let’s think outside that box we are all stuck in.

“IT”- Information technology for dental geeks and regular people alike!

“I” – Irrigation

Water Irrigation

Irrigation gets where your brush cant

“I” stands for Irrigation- I love irrigators- they go in-between, under and around better than most tooth brushes and better than most floss.  You have to go deep! Deeper than your toothbrush is capable of going.

And, how about irrigating in the shower?  Waterpik makes a “Shower Flosser” (an irrigator that’s waterproof) so no mess, and way efficient for all you engineer types out there.

Here’s the key  to its effectiveness though: I recommend you slowly outline your gum line three, yes 3 times around your mouth, up, down, and inside.

The instructions tell you to point that tip perpendicular to the tooth.  INSTEAD: I recommend you to dial down the power and point it up into the gum-line.  There are a bunch of different tips you can put on, so try them all out and see what works best for you.

You will have to refill that water canister a few times if you follow my recommendation, so have a plastic container filled with warm water ready to refill easily.  I also suggest you put baking soda in with the warm water.  You can’t “over baking soda” the water, so dump in a heaping spoonful, stir and dissolve.  When you are done, be sure to flush the tank with more warm water or the tubing may clog up.  The baking soda may void the warranty but hey, get a new one if you need to.  Way cheaper than gum infections and heart disease. Remember the goal is oral wellness!


“T” – I have a lot of tee’s to recommend.

Tooth Brushes:

Okay people, you have a smart phone, a smart car, and a smart brain.  Time to upgrade your tooth brush to a smart brush.  Here’s the truth- your manual toothbrush is old technology.  I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, it does not work as good as power brushes.

It Healthy Teethtakes about 10 to 15 minutes to get all the plaque biofilm and gunk off with a manual toothbrush.  Yes, I have timed it.  The only time I see folks brush that long is when I put red disclosing  liquid in their mouth and they can see the plaque. They then need to brush it off before they leave the room.

I used to leave my electric tooth brush home when I traveled and found after three days, I missed my toothbrush, a lot…  Now, I don’t leave home without it, ever.  But here’s the rub, I have a very compact, small, lightweight, fabulously efficient tooth brush called the KYOUI (pronounced: Q-EE).  My toothbrush leaves me with that “just been to my fabulous dental hygienist silky smooth feeling” EVERYDAY!  And, it has a brush head that goes in all the nooks and crannies called the “end tufted head.”


Time to Upgrade

For all your nooks, crannies and plaque traps

Now,  I realize not everyone is going to want to pay $200.00 for an electric toothbrush.  Here’s the rub-if it keeps your teeth clean, breath fresh, and stops even one cavity from forming, it has paid for itself many times over.  You have a smart phone, in essence it does the same thing a rotary phone does-makes calls-correct?  Yet, no one still uses a rotary phone because you want the texting, the photos and all the other stuff it does.  Same goes for your toothbrush.

Power is just more efficient and does a better job.  You are worth it, and so are your children.  AND, SO are your parents and grandparents.  I live in the heart of Microsoft-land here in Seattle and yet, so many people still have a manual toothbrush!  Time for “IT” for your health and wellness.  Up your game for better oral wellness.  Investigate the Kyoui and the end tufted brush head,  it’s my favorite toothbrush,


The question I get often: what’s the best toothpaste?  My answer is – It depends.  What do you need/want your toothpaste to do?  There are lots of options.  Does it need to:

  •                     Remineralize teeth?
  •                     Desensitize?
  •                     Give you minty breath?
  •                     Reduce tartar or plaque build up?
  •                     Raise the pH of the mouth?
  •                     Remoisturize your mouth?
  •                     Put prebiotics and probiotics is your mouth?
  •                     Have as few chemicals and ingredients as possible?

And you thought I was going to just recommend a name brand paste.

Actually, you really don’t “need” toothpaste.  We use it because we want our mouth to be minty and not taste like grossness.  The toothbrush does all the actual work (hence splurge, get the best you can).  It is the action of the brush bristles on the tooth, mouth and gums that remove the plaque biofilm, not the toothpaste (despite what the commercials might have you believe).

A Few of My Favorite Things

IF your saliva is flowing properly you will naturally remineralize and  desensitize your teeth with your own saliva.  How natural is that?!? The body is magical.  Unfortunately, most folks have a shortage of good quality saliva- they snack all day, mouth breathe, and/or drink acidic things.

A few of my favorite pastes

All those habits drop the pH of the mouth, making it acidic and a perfect place for tooth decay to erupt.

Thus,  the reason I like Common Sense Teeth Powder– it’s baking soda along with minerals and xylitol.  I like Revitin to place pre- and probiotics in the mouth, I like Tom’s of Maine Rapid Relief because it has arginine to remineralize teeth, and for those that are okay with  fluoride, I recommend Enamelon with xylitol, fluoride, calcium and phosphate to remineralize and a natural herb called spilanthes remoisturize the mouth, as well as repel plaque from sticking to the tooth.  Toothpastes with xylitol act like a probiotic and keep the plaque from growing and clinging to the tooth surface, and five servings of it daily reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth by 60%.  As a standalone single-ingredient toothpaste, I recommend baking soda.  Plain, simple, but definitely an acquired taste.

(I’ve tried the charcoal pastes and powders, as well as clay based.  I’m mostly neutral on them.  My problem is that I brush my teeth once I’m dressed, and dang if the charcoal or the clay paste doesn’t just spatter all over my nice white shirt.  You don’t realize how much electric brushes spatter as you brush.  Trust me, it’s a lot.)

Tongue Tech

Tongue Cleaner- Use twice daily for fresher breath!

One of my favorite tools is a metal tongue cleaner.  I have two, although I prefer the one I can use in one hand, not really because it’s better, I’m just lazy.  I clean my tongue every morning and just before bed.  It makes a difference in my tartar build up and in how my mouth feels first thing in the morning.  Remember I mentioned above about tasting like grossness?   This tool makes it so much better.  No fuzzy teeth when you use a tongue cleaner daily and consistently.  Scrape until there’s no plaque on your tongue coming off.  You have to squeeze the plaque out of the follicles, so your tooth brush won’t work.  Really, it doesn’t do the job.  Be efficient and use a tongue scraper.  If you just won’t spend the $13.00 to buy one, get a metal spoon and flip it over, use the edge and that’ll be almost as good.


Tape to Sleep Better!

Crazy as this will sound, it’s a real thing.  3M NexCare Sensitive Skin Paper Tape from the first aid section of the drugstore.  Paper tape your lips gently together at night to ensure your mouth is closed and you breathe exclusively through your nose. Yes, it’s a thing and I did not make it up :).  Once you sleep breathing through your nose, you’ll sleep so much better! You’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and won’t have that dry, fuzzy mouth feeling.  Morning breath will be a thing of the past, just be sure to use that tongue cleaner too!

To use, break off about three inches, fold the ends over so you have a handle at each end, just in case you need to take it off at night, and gently tape your lips together.  (Do not use if you are ill, under age five, pregnant, have breathing problems, or have had too much alcohol.  Use your best judgement. )  It’s not sexy, but then, neither is snoring, drooling, or sleeping with your mouth open.  Healthy is sexy, so remember that!

Floss Technique

Oral Wellness

Fluffy Floss for Oral Wellness

Flossing correctly is really the very best way to bust up that sticky plaque biofilm snuggled up to the nooks and crannies in your mouth.  Sorry to say, I do wish the irrigators, the air flossers and that stick flosser worked even half as good as plain old woven fluffy floss.  So, IF you are inclined, here’s how to do it correctly (and you could do it in the shower for efficiency’s sake):

(Long ago I took a class at UNC -CH in writing a “task analysis”.  It’s finally come in to good use!)

#1.  Wash your hands

#2. Take a lot of floss,  then some more.  You’ll want a clean piece of floss for every side of every tooth.

Use your middle fingers to hold the floss

#3.  (I’m right handed) Wrap one end of the floss around the left hand middle finger three times.

#4.  Go out about 10 to 12 inches from that hand/floss and with the middle finger of the other hand wrap three times around that finger.





#5.  Tuck all but your thumbs and index fingers down.  You should have two L’s facing you. These are the only fingers that will be going into your mouth.

Four Flossing Fingers






Index Fingers for the lower Teeth

#6.  (Here comes the Cirque du Soleil part)  Lower arch just needs your index fingers. Keeping the floss taunt, about one inch apart, form a C shape around the tooth.



Pull the floss snugly to form around the tooth and gently “see-saw” past the contact point.  NOW, keep going UNDER the gum line.  It’s okay to go there, as long as you stay against the tooth.

Floss Under the Gum Line

Rub up and down the tooth 10 times.  Yes, you have to in order to break up the plaque biofilm and the only way to do that is to RUB.  More than two times, more than four times.  Until the tooth is squeaky clean.

#7.  Come out, roll the floss to a clean piece of floss, and repeat in that same area cleaning the tooth on the other side.

#8.  Repeat until you have flossed all the teeth on the lower, even the back of the last teeth. Two fingers will be all you need.



Thumb and Index Fingers for the Upper Teeth

#9.  Upper teeth take a little more finesse.  Here you will use your index finger and thumb.  Again you just need two fingers, and you’ll be able to reach every tooth in your head.  Promise.

Thumb comes up and holds the floss while you rotate the other wrist clockwise away from you.  The index finger and thumb are about one inch apart.  Index finger will go on the palate side of the teeth.  Rub, remove, rotate, repeat.

#10.  Discard floss (I have heard of people washing their floss to reuse so just wanted to remind you, but I’m sure you’d never do that…)  and rinse your mouth,

#11.  Wash your hands. 😉  good job, done and done!


If you need a more personal one on one flossing lesson or other oral health discussions, let me know.  I’m happy to do some oral health coaching via technology, or in person at Green City Dental in Edmonds, WA.  Finding what tools work in your hands is key to oral wellness.

Other Tools

I love piksters,  Softpicks, Brush Picks, OraTek oral picks, Gum Chucks, and Rota-dent picks.  If you have ones you like, use them.  I tell my patients to use them in the car (Just not Gum chucks while driving).  Again, let’s be efficient.


My not so favorites are the rubber tips that used to be on the end of toothbrushes, they are mostly worthless, IMHO.  Stick floss is hard to curl around the tooth and get deep enough to remove the plaque without cutting the gums.  But, again, if things work for you, have at it.

We didn’t talk nutrition and vitamins, but I’ve covered that in these other posts so click here, here, and here for much more information. ** Also, of vital importance is oxygen, the most important nutrient to oral health and overall body health.  Lack of oxygen increases the bad gram-negative pathogenic bacteria which turns on gum disease and  tooth decay.  That discussion will entail an entire post – coming soon!

Time To Wrap Up

My goals for my patients:

  1. Raise the pH of the mouth so it’s less acidic
  2. Increase saliva flow
  3. Remineralize teeth
  4. Remove the plaque from all the nooks and crannies at least once daily.
  5. Stop tooth decay
  6. Stop gum disease
  7. Eliminate bad breath
  8. Lips together, and nasal breath all the time.  (See #1-7.)
  9. Get an Airway assessment
  10. Get a sleep study – check oxygen levels

Summer’s over.  Review is over.  New year begins next time.

Next posts will deal with new stuff like root canals, oral lesions, and Impaired Mouth Syndrome.  Lot’s to talk about so come on back my friends!

Til Next Time,

Keep Smiling!












Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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1 Comment

  1. Gyan World

    Before Commenting, I wanna say thank you for providing this great information. I feel too good to read it this awesome blog. Keep sharing this type of content.


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