To help you control disease and prevent re-infection, we have a unique way of training our patients in proper oral homecare. We constantly reinforce the fact that our patient’s effectiveness in oral hygiene is critical to ensure predictable treatment results and long-term stability of success.

Benefits of our preventive plaque control training program:

  • Training is custom designed specifically for you.
  • The program gives you the opportunity to share responsibility for your dental future and allows you to participate in your care.
  • Proper hygiene reduces chances of re-infection of the periodontal tissues, and reduces the chances of tooth decay.
  • Proper homecare may save you many thousands of dollars over your lifetime.


While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Move the brush in a horizontal back-and-forth motion several times using small strokes. Use moderate force, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.

When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle up-and-down strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to overlap the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To do this use short, aggressive strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.


Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember, it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (the Glide product is easier) about 18 inches long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the 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 motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it into place. Bring the floss to the gum line, then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth 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 each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean, the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, let our hygienist or the doctors know. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouthrinse made especially for sensitive teeth.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many dental products on the market it can become confusing to choose. Here are some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work for most patients.

Automatic and high-tech electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. There are various options, each with its pros and cons. Bottom line: Choose a toothbrush that works the best in your hands!

Regarding dental floss, there is no research to suggest an advantage of waxed or unwaxed with respect to effectiveness of cleaning. Many feel, however, that a waxed product allows less snagging or shredding. Dr. Gouldin and Dr. Carlos recommend the Glide floss product because of its ease of use.

Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but may not remove plaque as effectively as brushing and flossing.

Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing.

There are also tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) that are used to clean between your teeth. Drs. Gouldin and Carlos are firm believers in the interproximal brush in appropriate situations, to the extent that they often refer to this product as the tooth saving brush.

Fluoride toothpastes and mouthrinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age.

Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gum line, so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum disease.

Drs. Gouldin and Carlos, and our hygienist are well prepared to help you select the products that are best for you.

For more information about Oral Home Care or to schedule a consultation with Drs. Gouldin and Carlos, call our office in Falls Church, VA at Northern VA Periodontics Phone Number 703-534-1766.


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