Caring for your teeth

Your teeth are crucial to your daily life; they enable us to chew and aid digestion of food, help us talk clearly and maintain the shape of our face. Thorough care and cleaning will maintain oral health and prevent decay (caries) and gum disease (periodontitis).

Daily care includes:

  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste, once last thing at night and at one other time during the day.
  • Cleaning between teeth with interdental brushes (ie Tepe) or floss should be done at least once daily.
  • Reduce the frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies between meals as they can cause acid erosion of the teeth. This could lead to increased sensitivity.
  • Avoid smoking as it increases your risk of gum disease and mouth cancer.
  • Drink alcohol moderately, excessive alcohol consumption increases your risk of mouth cancer.
  • Strive to keep diabetes well controlled. Poorly controlled diabetes is linked to increased risks of gum disease.
  • Regular visits to you dentist for professional care and advice.

How to clean my teeth?

You can use a manual or an electric (rechargeable) toothbrush with a fluoridated toothpaste and interdental aids such as floss or interdental brushes.

From 6+ years old, you should be using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing at least 1350ppm-1500ppm of fluoride, (unless an alternative is advised by your dentist).

If you find you have sensitive teeth, use a sensitive toothpaste. You may have to do a bit of trial and error to find the one that works best for you. Brush last thing at night and at least one other time in the day. Try avoiding brushing teeth straight after eating, aim to wait 30mins.

Spit out after brushing, do not rinse. This keeps the fluoride from your toothpaste on the teeth.

If you are finding any blood when brushing or interdental cleaning, do not be alarmed, keep brushing as thoroughly as you possibly can and inform your dentist or hygienist on your next visit.

Healthy teeth of an older person
Healthy teeth of a younger person

Manual Toothbrushes


Best to use a small to medium size head with medium or soft bristles (using hard bristles could cause gum and tooth erosion).

With the toothbrush head against the teeth, tilt bristles towards the gum line and move the brush in a small circular action, moving from tooth to tooth, avoid big scrubbing actions.

Brush systematically i.e. brush upper outside surfaces first then lower outside surfaces and repeat for the inside surfaces.

When brushing the inside surfaces on the upper and lower front teeth, tilt your toothbrush up vertically and continue small circular movement.

Don’t forget to clean the chew surfaces of your teeth also.

You are aiming to be brushing for at least 2mins.

Change toothbrush every 3 months, sooner if bristles have splayed.

Electric (rechargeable) toothbrushes


Studies have shown powered toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque.

It is a personal preference between an oscillating rotating or vibrating head.
If you do have an oscillating head, a circular brush head is best.

With bristles placed against the teeth, tilt the bristles towards the gum line.

Unlike a manual toothbrush, you do not need to scrub but gently move the toothbrush from tooth to tooth and let the brush do the work.

Most electric toothbrushes have a timer to help you brush for 2mins.

Flossing


You can use floss thread/tape or
pre-loaded floss like little harps.

If using tape, given yourself plenty of floss, about 30cms (12 inches).

Wrap the floss around your index fingers with an inch between and pull tight so there is no slack on the floss.

Gently glide the floss between two teeth towards the gum line. Be care not to snap the floss onto the gumline. If struggling, try using a rocking motion to ease the floss down.

When the floss is against your gum, pull the floss to one side so you are creating a C-shape against one tooth .

Scape the floss up and down the side of the tooth a couple of times and repeat on the other side of the gap. Avoid sawing the floss between your teeth, this is not very effective.

Aim to do all inbetween spaces in your mouth for a thorough clean, including the back ones.

Interdental Brushes


There are various sizes of interdental brushes. It is best to ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on which size to use.

Hold the tip of the interdental brush at the little triangle which is present between your teeth at you gum line.

Gently insert between your teeth until it is all the way through.

Stroke the bristles along your gumline whilst carefully move back and forth in each space.


Mouthwash

  • Many people use mouthwash as part of their daily routine, but it is ok not to.
  • When using a mouthwash, do not use straight after brushing; this washes the fluoride you have brushed onto your teeth down the plughole! SPIT DON’T RINSE!
  • If you are using a mouthwash, it is always good to have a fluoride mouthwash. This will help to reduce the risk of decay.
  • Mouthwashes containing Chlorhexidine should be used with caution or unless advised to by your dentist. They can cause staining, but this mostly can be cleaned off. Ask your dentist or hygienist for further advice.

Caring for your child’s teeth

Your child’s teeth start making an appearance, generally, from the age of 6months but it may be earlier or later. If your child’s teeth have not started erupting by the age of 1 year, we recommend a visit to your dentist.

As soon as the teeth begin to appear, you need to start brushing with a soft bristle baby toothbrush. As your child gets older, change the toothbrush and toothpaste as appropriate. We advise supervision when brushing until 7yrs old and to encourage to SPIT, DON’T RINSE! Do NOT rinse out after brushing.

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, once last thing at night and at one other time in the day. Depending on your child’s age, depend on the amount of fluoride they need.

Ages:

  • 0-3 A smear of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste
  • 3-6 A pea sized blob of 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride toothpaste
  • 6+ A brush sized amount 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride toothpaste.

Your child will begin to lose their baby teeth around 6yrs old, again, could be earlier or later. Generally, they should have all their adult teeth by 14yrs old though the wisdom teeth may erupt later typically 18-25 years old


Denture care

For those who wear dentures, you should treat your dentures as if they were your own teeth. It is still important to have regular check-ups with your dentist even if you only have dentures.

Clean your dentures at least once a day and ideally after eating to ensure no more teeth are lost or damaged or cause any gum inflammation and to avoid bacterial and fungal infections.

You should remove your dentures at night-time and not sleep with them in unless you have been advised otherwise.

  • Always clean your denture over a bowl of water in case you drop them they shouldn’t break.
  • Using a toothbrush, brush off any remaining food. Do NOT use a toothpaste, this is too abrasive. Also, always try and remove any denture fixative. If your denture has mental clasps be careful when brushing around these to avoid damage.
  • Soak your denture in a denture-cleaning solution. This will remove any plaque and disinfect them, reducing risk of bacterial or fungal infections. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If your denture does break, contact the practice for further advice.