Oral Hygiene Advice
There are a variety of things you can do to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. From regular brushing to using plaque removal tools, we’ve put together the following oral hygiene advice to help ensure you’re in the know when it comes to this important topic.
Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
One of the most important dental health tips is to make sure you brush your teeth twice a day. This helps to remove food and plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth if you don’t brush regularly. Plaque contributes to tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s important to make sure you brush thoroughly to get rid of it.
When you’re brushing your teeth, use a toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride. This is a naturally occurring mineral that can help to prevent tooth decay. You can check the packaging of toothpaste to see how much fluoride it contains. According to the NHS, adults should use products with a concentration of fluoride of at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm). Children can use the same toothpaste, as long as it contains between 1,350 and 1,500ppm fluoride. Youngsters under the age of three should only use a smear of toothpaste, and children aged three to six should use a small blob of paste roughly the size of a pea. Your dentist might recommend that you or your child uses a paste with a higher concentration of fluoride if they think you could benefit from it.
In terms of timings, you should brush your teeth last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion during the day. You should spend around two minutes brushing each time, making sure you reach all surfaces of your teeth. Once you’ve finished, spit out any toothpaste, but don’t rinse your mouth out immediately because this will remove the fluoride, reducing its beneficial effects.
As well as brushing your teeth, it’s recommended to gently clean your tongue once a day using a tongue cleaner or scraper. Bear in mind that brushing alone can fail to reach all areas of your mouth. To access hard to reach places, such as the small gaps between your teeth, you can use floss or interdental brushes. We outline this in greater detail later on.
Choose a good toothbrush
It’s much easier to brush effectively if you have the right toothbrush. For many adults, a brush with a compact, small head and angled short and long round-end bristles is a good choice. Medium or soft bristles are usually suitable. If you’re in doubt about what sort of brush you need, you can ask your dentist for advice. It doesn’t matter whether you go for a manual or electric toothbrush. As long as you use them properly and clean all surfaces of your teeth, they work equally well. However, some people find it easier to achieve an effective clean with an electric toothbrush.
Consider using a mouthwash
You may wish to use a mouthwash in addition to brushing your teeth. Washes that contain fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay. However, avoid using these products immediately after brushing your teeth because this will wash away the fluoride in the toothpaste left on your teeth. Instead, it’s recommended to use a mouthwash at a different time, for example, after you’ve eaten your lunch. Once you’ve used a fluoride mouthwash, avoid eating or drinking for half an hour.
Floss or use an interdental brush
Toothbrushes are good for cleaning the large surfaces of your teeth, but they aren’t always suitable for reaching the small gaps between teeth or dental appliances. In fact, toothbrushing only cleans 60% of your teeth, so it’s important to floss (or use an interdental brush) to clean the rest. Floss and interdental brushes are designed to access these hard-to-reach areas, and they can help to clean away food and plaque that may gather between your teeth and along your gum line. Regular flossing or interdental brushing can reduce gum disease and bad breath. The NHS recommends doing this daily to help protect oral health. Those who wish to use dental floss but who find it difficult or uncomfortable to use traditional, loose floss can try floss picks instead. These tools feature a curved end that holds a taut section of floss in place and they have a long handle that is designed to make it easier to reach the back teeth.
We offer a variety of floss products. These include our new generation of floss picks such as the Cross Flosser, which removes 80% more plaque from hard to reach areas than the leading rolled floss*. Or perhaps you would be interested in our Triple Clean Floss Picks complete with multi-filament textured floss, a textured pick and a tongue cleaner.
Think about what you eat and drink
As well as cleaning your teeth regularly and thoroughly, it’s important to think carefully about what you eat and drink. Your diet can have a big impact on your oral health. For example, reducing your intake of sugar can help to prevent tooth decay. Sugar is present in many of the foods and drinks we have, including chocolate, sweets, cakes, breakfast cereals, fruit, starchy foods, many fizzy drinks, fruit juice, smoothies and milky drinks with added sugar. It’s also present in alcohol. By cutting down on the amount of sugar in your diet and consuming sugary foods and drinks less frequently, you can help to protect your teeth. For example, the NHS recommends having no more than 150ml per day of fruit juice, smoothies or vegetable juice. It also suggests having these drinks at mealtimes, rather than between meals.
You might also want to cut down on foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as tea, coffee and red wine.
Go for regular dental check-ups
No matter how well you look after your teeth, it’s important to go for regular dental check-ups. These visits to the dentist will help to ensure that any problems with your teeth or gums are detected early, meaning they will be easier to treat.
Your dentist will advise you on how frequently you should attend check-ups. For many people, the advice is to go for these appointments every six months, but the time between visits can be anything from three months to two years, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of developing dental problems in the future. During a check-up, your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth and gums and ask about any problems you may have had with your oral health since your last visit. They may recommend certain treatments if they spot problems, and they might suggest a scale and polish to clean your teeth.