Brush Basics

Why do we brush our teeth? What's the best kind of brush to use?
Brushing your teeth is one of the most effective ways of removing plaque from the exposed surfaces of your teeth. Contrary to what you might think, a gentle brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush is just as effective (and less damaging!) than a vigorous scrubbing with a stiff-bristle toothbrush. Your tooth enamel is relatively thin. Years of aggressive brushing can begin to wear away the enamel and make the teeth sensitive. (Remember, the enamel on your teeth does not contain nerve fibers, but the dentin layer underneath does. Brushing too hard can also damage your gums.

What's the best way to brush?

There are different styles of tooth brushing. The important thing to remember is that an effective brushing cleans every exposed tooth surface in a gentle, massaging motion. How long do you take to brush your teeth? Most people think they brush for at least a minute or two, but in reality they brush for 30 seconds or less. Time yourself and see how you do. An effective brushing takes 2 - 3 minutes.

Floss is the Boss

What's dental floss made of? How does it work?
Brushing alone isn't enough to clean all of the plaque from the surface of your teeth. Interproximal areas (those places in between your teeth) and below the gum line are two spots where the toothbrush can't reach and plaque can build up. These are areas that are more susceptible to cavities. Daily flossing and regular visits to your dentist are the only effective ways to remove this plaque.

Dental fact: did you know that failing to floss means up to 35% of your tooth surface is not cleaned?

Dental floss is a man-made fiber (usually made of nylon) that comes on a spool.
Ask your  dentist how to correctly use dental floss if you're not sure.

How do I know I have bad breath?

  1. Lick the back of your hand. Let it dry for a few seconds and then smell. If you notice and odor, you have a breath disorder.
  2. Place dental floss between your back teeth and then smell the floss.
  3. While looking at the mirror, grab the tip of your tongue with a Kleenex and pull it out as far you can. If you see that the very back of your tongue is whitish in color, it may be a sign that you have bad breath.
  4. Ask the opinion of someone you can trust. Check your breath several times daily because your breath changes throughout the day.
  5. Professional use of the Halimeter: an instrument which measures the concentration of the V. S. C. in the mouth.

How do I treat bad breath?

As the anaerobic bacteria which cause bad breath reside within the tongue itself it is impossible to remove these bacteria completely by brushing or using a tongue scraper alone. Scraping the surface of the tongue may remove excessive VSC (a whitish film) that have surfaced to the top of of the tongue.

Although bad breath is not necessarily an oral hygiene problem, it is important to brush and floss to maintain oral health. Maintain regular professional cleanings especially if you suffer from Periodontal Disease (gum disease). Broken down diseased tissue is bacterial nutrition. It is important to know that most toothpaste contains sodium laryl sulphate which is used as a foaming agent. This is actually a detergent which dries out the mouth even more.

To effectively treat bad breath, the level of anaerobic bacteria and the amount of VSC produced needs to be reduced and or neutralized

What products reduce anaerobic bacteria and neutralize bad breath?

As ph is important, the product used needs to have a neutral or slightly basic ph. As the bacteria thrive in an anaerobic climate, the incorporation of an oxygenating complex would be advantageous.

An oxidizing agent is needed to neutralize the volatile sulphur compounds from the active sulfite to an inactive odorless, tasteless sulfate form. The active ingredient is chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide besides neutralizing vsc is also an antimicrobial agent.


  • Brush and floss using a chlorine dioxide toothpaste (avoid toothpaste containing sodium laryl sulphate)
  • Use an oral mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide (gargle as well)
  • Use of a tongue scraper to remove any white coating as far back as you can.
  • Regular professional cleanings.
  • Drink lots of water!!

Products currently available which claim to neutralize vsc include Breath Remedy, BreathRx, CloSys11, Oxyfresh, Profresh and Therabreath

These products do not foam like regular toothpaste and do not contain minty flavoring agents. They are bland tasting and some may even find it unpleasant tasting, but they do appear to work. Profresh is the only product that contains the active form of chlorine dioxide. The others contain a stabilized form of chlorine dioxide which needs an acidic environment to break down to the active form. Some question their efficacy, while others indicate that Profresh is overkill. Oxyfresh is the only one that contains sodium laryl sulphate(a foaming agent-like regular toothpaste) which some say may dry out the mouth. There is inadequate research at this time to indicate any product superiority and recommends that you try the different products until you find the one that works best for you.


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