Tooth Tools to Try

Barbara Tritz
· June 16, 2023 ·

5 minutes

Yesterday’s post was all about toothbrushes and toothbrushing techniques. Toothbrushing cleans 60% of the tooth surface on its best day. It can’t get the entire tooth clean because it just doesn’t reach everywhere… So, if you don’t floss or use something beyond your toothbrush you are leaving that 40% of unclean teeth until your incredible dental hygienist can get to it when you return in three months or six months for your recare appointment. Your hygienist only sees you two to four times a year so your entire mouth is only completely “clean” two (to four times a year). What about the other 363 days? Hmm, that’s a lotta plaque bacteria to leave unattended for so long.

Brushing removes about 60% of tooth plaque

What about the other 40% of the tooth? Let’s discuss some other tools to add to your armamentarium. (I learned that word in dental hygiene school- it’s all about “the tools, methods, and equipment needed to carry out one’s duties”. It fits here quite well.)

See It and Believe It

The toothbrush cleans most of the flat surfaces of the teeth. It totally misses the areas between the teeth. It often even misses along the gumline and surprise! but also the grooves on the tops of the teeth. I use a disclosing solution to show me where the plaque is hiding. This disclosing solution is tricolored- old plaque is purple, new plaque (less than 48 hours old) is pink, and acidic plaque is blue. Often, I will see layers of plaque: first pink, then as I use my air polisher and peel off this first layer- underneath it is purple, and then next to the tooth I see baby blue. That acidic plaque is “cavity making acidic” plaque. That tells me there is acid sitting on the tooth surface. The real issue is that the acidic plaque is on the root surface which has no enamel and it is really thinner cementum – the root surface which is not nearly as hard as enamel.

Blue plaque is acidic and cavity-making plaque

Sometimes it’s not even hiding.

I recommend people run their tongue over their teeth and feel the surfaces. Do they feel smooth? Do they feel as smooth as when I have worked my dental hygiene magic? That’s how clean they should be every single day, not just two or four days a year.

IS the brush the best tool to remove plaque? Sometimes it is not.

Oral Irrigation Tool to Try

I have been pleasantly surprised with how healthy my oral irrigation patients have looked. Oral irrigation- you may know it as “Waterpik” but there are a lot of other irrigation options and companies. (Waterpik is to irrigation as Kleenex is to tissues.) Irrigation is the tool I rely on to get in these nooks and crannies. It’s like a pressure washer for your teeth and gums. I often recommend adding something to the water to make it even more healing, depending on what the patient needs. That’s when I look at salivary diagnostic results and adjust how I want to disinfect the plaque biofilm. I don’t want to eliminate all bacteria, just the bad ones. We need the good ones to repopulate the biofilm.

Oral irrigation has been my secret weapon in the fight against dental decay and infection in the gums. Here’s the secret- use it twice a day, brush once. (Of course I want you to brush twice a day BUT~ if you will only do one thing, then irrigate.) Most folks will brush twice a day. Just irrigate first. But if you really want to rock your oral hygiene, irrigate twice a day. If you need movtivation to do that- click here and here and here.

How to Irrigate for a Rock Star Smile

Hydroplane right along the gumline. He is not nearly close enough for real life. This is just a photo op…

Fill the tank with warm water.

Power on low to medium-low. This is a gentle lavage – not a fire hydrant hose.

Lean over the sink.

Outline the gums, pointing the tip into the gumline.

Irrigation should not hurt.

Dribble the water from your mouth into the sink. ( it will run down your chin. Don’t wear your best shirt.

Go around your entire gumline three times. Refill the tank as needed.

When done, flush your tank and tip.

Use twice a day. (For rock star gums and smiles.) (I bet rock stars still have gum disease so share these tips with them too.)

Ideally, you have to physically rub the plaque off the tooth. The waterpik does not remove all the plaque because it is attched to the tooth. Irrigation leaves the inner surface of plaque that is impregnanted into the tooth still attached to the tooth, but I still see incredible healthy gums. Irrigation works without killing everything in the mouth.

If you want to skip irrigation, I get it. It can be messy. So, please think about adding some suggestions from the next section to your routine if you aren’t interested in irrigation.

Other Tools and Tips Too

I also highly recommend interproximal/interdental brushes. These little tiny brushes are cylindrical and fit in betwen the teeth and act just like a toothbrush does in removing plaque. I suggest keeping them in the car and use when you are stuck in traffic.

10 sizes to pick from, you’ll find one or two right for you.

Rub it in between the teeth gently 10 times. Do rinse and clean the brushes just like you would a toothbrush. Allow to air dry.

Soft picks by Sunstar GUM are small and work great too.

Put them in your car and “pick” on the way home

If you use these picks and your gums bleed that is an indication you have gum disease. Keep using them to help your gums heal.

If the corner of a matchbook works, use that to clean in between. I draw the line at the corner of a knife. Find something safe and study and small and Just DO IT with Tools!

Try New Tooth Tools

For links to these and more of my favorite tools: Great Oral Health Tools – Queen of Dental Hygiene

The bottom line- clean the entire tooth, not just the usual 60% of the tooth. Find the tools and habit stack that habit into your routine. I always floss right before I put my makeup on. That way my oral routine is done right before I do something I’d do every single day. It becomes part of my routine.

Phew! Day 15 done in the nick of time. I did some traveling last night and today and am in NYS for a family weekend.

Be Well my Friends!


Barbara Tritz

Queen of tools for in between teeth for a wonderful clean feeling

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.

Share your thoughts below!


  1. LJ

    Hello Staff,
    That tooth tool to try seems good, but no information on where to purchase it or price.

    • Barbara Tritz

      Hello LJ!
      Thank you for that nudge. I have added a link to all my favorite tools.


  2. Rebecca

    Have you ever looked into the Novaalab infrared mouthguard to heal gums and whiten teeth? Just wondered what your thoughts are…is it useful or hype?

    • Barbara Tritz

      Hello Rebecca,
      I actually literally just wrote a post on redlight therapy. I am not familiar with the Novalab product so I will look into it. But I suspect it is as incredible as the Oralucent toothbrush.
      Let the light healing begin!

  3. Caroline

    Hi I’m not sure if it’s just me, the links to your favourite tools don’t seem to list the tools, just the headings. I’ve tried several different browsers and still get nothing.

    • Barbara Tritz

      Hi Caroline,
      I just noticed this too. My apologies. I was an Amazon associate but apparently did not “sell” enough so they canceled me and my entire list of both products and books disappeared. I am in the process of having my blog site updated and will have dedicated “fav” pages. Meanwhile, if there is something in particular you have questions on- toothpaste? toothbrushes? or other products I am happy to chat about that. Email me at: and we can chat.



  1. Day 17: Magical Healing Power of Light – Dentale 7 - […] into in future posts. For today, please think about a new and exciting technology to add to your “armamentarium.”…

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