You only have one set of adult teeth to last you a lifetime so it is essential to take care of them properly. You need your teeth to eat, talk and smile so you are using them in many ways every day. Looking after them properly can also prevent painful problems such as tooth decay and good oral health could also reduce the risk of other kinds of health problems, such as heart disease.
Looking after your oral health should be part of your daily routine. The rewards are well worth the small effort that it takes to keep your teeth clean and health.
Brush Your Teeth
Toothbrushing is the key to good oral health.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, including once before bed
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush gently to avoid damaging your gums
- Make sure that you clean all of the surfaces of every tooth
- Remember to clean your tongue too
- Brushing your teeth should take about 2 minutes
- Spit out after brushing but don’t rinse your mouth as this ensures the fluoride stays on your teeth long enough to protect them
- Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after brushing to let the toothpaste do its job
- If you want to use mouthwash, do this after waiting or at another time of day
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
Clean Between Your Teeth
Brushing can clean most of the surfaces of your teeth, but it won’t ensure that the small areas between the teeth are clean. Plaque can build up in these areas and cause tooth decay and gum disease. You should use floss or interdental brushes to clean in between your teeth once a day, ideally before brushing.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Some kinds of food and drink can increase the chance of tooth decay so it is best to limit these in your diet. If you want to have them occasionally then it is best to do it at mealtimes (rather than snacking in between) and to drink water or chew sugar free gum afterwards. Sugar free gum can reduce the acidity in your mouth by encouraging you to make more saliva.
The two main types of food and drink to watch out for are:
- Sugary products which encourage the bacteria that cause decay to live on your teeth
- Acidic items such as fruit juices, which can erode your tooth enamel
See Your Dentist for Regular Check Ups
Looking after your own teeth is important, but you should also visit your dentist for regular check-ups. You’ll get personalised advice on dental hygiene and any developing problems will be spotted and treated as quickly as possible. Preventative dentistry can reduce the need for dental treatment and help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
Be Aware of Any Changes
Our teeth and gums change as we grow older. We can also develop problems such as tooth decay and gum disease even when we’re looking after our oral health. It’s therefore important to be aware of any changes so that we can see a dentist when we need treatment as well as for preventative dentistry.