Keeping your mouth clean helps prevent dental disease:
- Sticky plaque builds up on everyone’s teeth every day and this can lead to gum disease. The gum comes away from the teeth, making the plaque more difficult to clean away. This makes gum disease worse. You can stop gum disease starting by cleaning your teeth carefully.
- Just brushing your teeth will not prevent tooth decay. You need to brush with a fluoride toothpaste. This helps the tooth mend itself after being attacked by plaque acids. Thorough brushing gets fluoride all around the mouth.
- Teeth also erode. This means they dissolve away when you have acidic food and drink too often. Rinsing acids away with water afterwards helps to prevent erosion.
As well as cleaning your teeth and gums thoroughly, try to have sticky and acidic food and drink less often.
How to brush your teeth:
Using a hand brush
- Brush you teeth thoroughly twice a day with a soft to medium brush and fluoride toothpaste. Replace the brush when the bristles get out of shape.
- Put the bristles at the join between teeth and gums, pointing towards the gums using short circular movements.
- Brush all round every tooth, carefully making sure you can feel the brush on your gums.
- Don’t use too much force.
- Small children usually cannot brush properly until they are eight or nine so brush their teeth yourself. One way is to stand behind your child and tilt their head back so you can reach round all the teeth.
Using an electric (Sonic) toothbrush
- The same principle applies except you do not do any circular motions but slowly move the bristles along the side of the teeth and gums.
- Also move the head of the brush across the top of the biting surfaces of the teeth.
- These brushes have a timer, allowing you to do exactly thirty seconds cleaning on each quarter of the mouth.
- Sonic brushes will normally switch themselves off after two minutes of brushing.
- Change the head every six months.
Dental floss helps you clean in between your teeth. Your dentist will tell you whether you need to floss. If you do, they will show you how to do it. You may need to practise in front of a mirror.
- Use about 18 inches of floss. Wrap the ends around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving two to three inches between the first finger and thumb.
- Gently slide the floss between two teeth and put it around one tooth, next to the gum, using your fingers.
- Move the floss up and down the side of the tooth several times.
- Do the same for every tooth.
Children do not need to floss.