Taking care
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& your smile

Don’t Brush With “Steel Wool”

Has the dentist ever asked you “When was the last time you flossed,” and your response was “You should remember because you did it the last time I was here 6 months ago!”

According to the US News & World Report, you are not alone. A recent survey of over 9,00 people showed that 33 percent of people never floss. 37% of people floss less than daily. Only 30 percent of the population floss daily, the recommended daily regimen for flossing. That means two-thirds of the population can have food, plaque, and bacteria constantly stuck between their teeth!

Dentists and hygienists look at peoples’ gums every day. The majority of the time we are able to get a pretty accurate idea of what type of job a person does brushing/flossing with only a few simple tests. Our goal is to help educate patients about ideal home care habits.

The important thing to know is that there is no-one-size-fits-all home care routine. We provide suggestions based on your mouth. We also understand that there are so many products and ads out there that sometimes it gets confusing to know what to do/use. With that being said, there are a couple of suggestions that we have come up with.

  • Manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes, floss, rinses, tongue scrapers, superfloss, picks, and WaterPiks all can be an important part of your daily routine. After your dentist evaluates your mouth, they will be able to help explain what works best for you.
  • Brushing and flossing are by far the 2 most important items for the majority of people. If done correctly, most people can effectively clean their teeth with a toothbrush and a spool of floss. Obviously this is not true for all people, but it is a good starting point.
  • When done correctly, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as an electric toothbrush. However, when our patients switch to an electric toothbrush, we almost always see improvement in their oral health. We believe this is because electric toothbrushes make the process of brushing easier, and (for those toothbrushes that have timers) tell you when you have brushed for the correct amount of time.
  • Choose “Soft” or “Extra-soft” bristles on your manual toothbrush. “Medium” and “Firm” bristles can damage your gum over time. A simple analogy would be “You don’t use steel wool to clean the dirt off of your car.” You use soap, water, and a sponge/rag. “Medium” and “Firm” bristles are the steel wool of toothbrushes.
  • Look for the ADA seal of approval on toothpaste. If you see that seal, it means that the active ingredients have been scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect on your mouth. If you want the best chance to stay decay-free, choose a toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Brush 2 times per day for 2 minutes each time. Floss once per day.
  • Get a checkup every 6 months. Significant dental issues can often be avoided with regular checkups. Dentists are often able to diagnose issues before they become larger problems that require more work.


Dr. Homann is a dentist located in Elk Grove Village and is happy to answer any questions you might have about taking care of your mouth. Dr. Homann services residents of Elk Grove Village, Itasca, Wood Dale, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, and surrounding communities.