The Right Dental Home Care

Since plaque can hide beyond the reach of home care methods, the following tips for maintaining excellent oral care are not intended to replace regular visits to our Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group dental hygienists.  However, in combination with professional dental cleanings at our Nanaimo dental office, the following methods will help your family maintain the dental health you’re aiming for.


Proper brushing technique is essential as improper brushing can lead to gum damage, such as receding gums. Proper brushing takes at least two minutes but most people do not brush nearly that long. At Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group we teach that to properly brush your teeth, use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration.

Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gum line and sweep or roll the brush away from the gum line.  Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes.

The dental professionals at Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group promote a soft-bristled brush for removing plaque from your teeth. Small-headed brushes are also preferable since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth. An electric toothbrush is a good alternative as it provides more back-and-forth movements than hand-held brushes. It can do a better job of cleaning teeth, particularly for children or those who have difficulty brushing.

Specific types of toothpaste can be purchased to help deal with a variety of conditions including cavities, gingivitis, tartar, stained teeth and tooth sensitivity. Ask your Nanaimo dentist or dental hygienist which toothpaste is right for you.

You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to re-infection.


You may find that your gums are tender or bleed when you floss your teeth.  Tenderness and bleeding are usually due to gum inflammation.  Gum inflammation is likely to occur if you haven’t flossed on a regular basis.  As you begin to floss daily, the healing process will take place and tenderness or bleeding of gums should begin to lessen.  If after a week or two of regular flossing your gums are still as tender, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with Dr. Mahara at Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group to have your situation assessed.

Gently work the dental floss between your teeth past the contact point, careful not to hurt your gums. Work the dental floss up and down the side of each tooth by pulling the dental floss snugly up against the side of one of the two teeth. This will force the floss to slide down the tooth, and allow it to clean a maximum amount of the tooth’s surface.

Once you have finished cleaning the side of this first tooth, bring the floss back above the gum line and pull it snugly against the side of the other tooth and repeat this action.  Although using this method may seem slow at first, once you’ve mastered this technique you will be able to do this quickly.

As a note, don’t forget to floss the back side of the last teeth in your mouth and any teeth that have spaces where teeth have been removed. Always keep the pressure of the dental floss against the tooth’s surface, especially on these teeth, so as not to injure the gums.

Finally, it’s advisable to rinse your mouth out after you floss to expel any particles that you loosened during flossing.

Oral Irrigation

An oral irrigator is a home care device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food debris between teeth and below the gum line and improve gum health.  Oral irrigators have been shown to disrupt plaque and bacteria 3 – 4 millimetres below the gum line.

Check with our Nanaimo dental hygienist or dentists to see if an oral irrigator would be recommended for you to improve your dental home care practices.

Tongue Cleaning

Regular tongue cleaning can help alleviate bad breath problems since bacteria on the tongue can be a major cause of bad breath.  In fact, tongue cleaning is one the most critical steps you can take on a daily basis to improve the freshness of your breath!  Keep in mind, however, that tongue cleaning alone does not alleviate bad breath –it’s just one component of a healthy mouth.

First of all, to clean your tongue you don’t need an expensive tool.  All you need is a fairly rigid instrument that lays flat on your tongue and covers the largest amount of surface possible.
Only press as hard on the tongue cleaning tool as necessary to keep the tool flush on the surface of your tongue.  Pressing any harder will not remove any more of the white film on the tongue.  In fact, the surface material you are removing is not the bacteria itself, but the food source for the bacteria.

Begin at the base of the tongue and make slow strokes from back to front until all of the surface areas are covered.  You can use a small bead of toothpaste on the tongue cleaner, preferably one that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate because this ingredient dries out the mouth.

Foods for excellent oral health

In general, foods that help muscles and bones also help teeth and gums. Some foods may protect against cavities, like green tea for example, which contains antioxidants as well as fluoride.
Milk and cheese are low-acidity foods which are also low in sugar.  They are also rich in calcium and phosphate, which are thought by dental experts to encourage the re-mineralization process which helps keep teeth healthy and strong.

Fruits such as apples, strawberries and kiwis contain Vitamin C. Without this present, gum cells can break down, making gums tender and susceptible to disease.
Vitamin A, found in pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel. Crunchy vegetables are also good for oral health as they assist in cleaning your gums.
Sesame seeds reduce plaque and help build tooth enamel and are also very high in calcium.
Since saliva aids in stabilizing the pH level of the mouth to neutral, foods high in fibre may also help to increase the flow of saliva. Celery, for example, protects teeth by producing saliva and by massaging the teeth and gums.

Sugar-free chewing gum stimulates saliva production and helps to clean the surface of the teeth. Last, but not least, for a healthy mouth drink lots of water! Pure water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth.

Foods that cause oral health problems

Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities and sugars from fruit and fruit juices, such as glucose and fructose are equally to blame for causing cavities. The amount of sugar consumed at any one time is less important than how often food and drinks that contain sugar are consumed.

The more frequently sugars are consumed, the greater the time during which the tooth is exposed to low pH levels. A suggestion to work with this knowledge is to limit sugar-containing foods and drinks to certain times of the day, such as meal times.

It’s not only sugars in foods and drinks that cause poor dental health conditions, acids contained in fruit juice, vinegar and soft drinks lower the pH level of the mouth as well. Drinking orange juice or cola throughout the day, therefore, raises the risk of dental cavities significantly.
Another factor which affects the risk of developing cavities is the stickiness of foods. Some foods or sweets may stick to the teeth and so reduce the pH in the mouth for an extended time, particularly if they are sugary.
In combination with professional dental cleanings at our Nanaimo dental office, we hope the above tips will serve your family well in maintaining the dental health you desire.

Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group is proud to serve your complete dental health needs in Nanaimo.  Our Nanaimo dentists believe in continuous learning to bring you the latest technology in dental medicine and our team of dental professionals aspire to the highest level of patient care.  At each visit to our office, we treat you with the respect, honesty and dignity that you deserve.