Four steps to a lifetime of good oral health
At least 2 minutes in the morning. Brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste. Also gently brush your gums and tongue
|5 minutes at night. Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes using a fluoride toothpaste, gently brush your gums and tongue, and clean between teeth using dental floss or an interdental brush.|
Enjoy mealtimes with a balanced diet. Eat less sugary foods & drinks (and aim for none between meals!) and don’t smoke
|Arrange regular visits to your dentist. So that your dentist can deal with any problems earlier and your hygienist can help you keep your teeth & gums in best condition possible.|
Answers to help you maintain your oral health
What’s the best way to brush my teeth?
Brush gently and systematically all surfaces of every tooth for at least 2 minutes using small circular movements with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Spit out after brushing and do not rinse.
Why not brush my teeth immediately after a meal?
When you have fruit, wine, fizzy drinks or any other food that contains acid, your tooth enamel is softened by the acid. Brushing straight after such a meal could help wear away the enamel. Waiting an hour or so gives your saliva the chance to neutralise the acid.
What type of toothbrush should I use?
Use a brush with a comfortable handle. Brushing is more effective with a small-headed toothbrush with soft, round-ended, compact and angled long & short filaments. Powered brushes with an oscillating/ rotating action also help remove plaque effectively.
When should I replace my toothbrush?
You should typically use a new toothbrush every three months or so. When the bristles begin to get deformed or noticeably softer than when the brush was new, it’s time to replace it and pronto!
You say I need to brush between my teeth?
Absolutely. As you get older, and your gums need more help to stay in good shape, it’s as important to clean between the teeth as to brush the surfaces you can see. Good advice to remember: ‘Only floss the ones you want to keep!’
How do I floss?
A short video clip below illustrates this. The best way to learn a good technique is to have your dental hygienist demonstrate. She’ll show you the best way to guide the floss gently up and down against the sides of each tooth, down to the gum line. This not only gets rid of any trapped food scraps, but also plaque, the bacteria which causes inflamed gums.
If you find flossing difficult, you could try a floss holder or flosser. Your dental hygienist can also advise you on other ways to clean between your teeth, such as interdental brushes – which are very small, single-prong brushes specially designed to clean between teeth.
How do I use interdental brushes?
A short video clip below illustrates this. Again, your dental hygienist can help. She’ll recommend the right size for you – they come in a variety of thicknesses, because the gaps between people’s teeth vary - and show you the best way to use them for maximum effectiveness.
When you first start flossing or using interdental brushes, there’s a good chance your gums will bleed slightly. But this should stop after a week or so. If it does not, please come and see us for check-up and advice.
Any suggestions for toothpaste?
Look for fluoridated toothpaste with at least 1,350ppm fluoride. Some toothpastes also contain triclosan (in combination with copolymer or with zinc citrate) and evidence suggests this is more effective in helping control plaque.
What’s the problem with sugary foods and drinks?
Sugar reacts with the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid, which attacks your tooth enamel. The more – and the more often – the greater the damage.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 10 minutes or so after your meal can help, encouraging saliva which helps neutralise the acidity. Even a freshwater rinse or occasionally a mouthwash can also help, for the same reason - but they are no substitute for traditional toothbrush cleaning.
Chlorhexidine mouthrinses (either 10 ml of 0.2% or 15 ml of 0.12%) can be effective in improving plaque control and are helpful when used for short periods (such as during times when it is difficult to clean properly your teeth).
ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION & GUIDANCE
A balanced diet?
A healthy balanced diet is one we enjoy and will include foods from all the major food groups – “The eatwell plate” below illustrates this. This eatwell plate and more information about opting for the healthier choice can be obtained from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
The NHS provides guidance and help to those who wish to quit smoking. http://smokefree.nhs.uk/ will help you locate your local NHS Stop Smoking Service
Concerned about alcohol?
National Drinkline on 0800 917 8282 can put you in touch with local support service