- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, both first thing in the morning and before bedtime
- Adults and children should use fluoride toothpaste, as this helps protect your tooth enamel from breakdown
- Brush gently in circular strokes, and remember that you need to brush every surface of each tooth. Give your tongue a brush, too, as this can help remove bacteria
Make sure you also brush the gum line, where your gums meet your teeth. Be careful not to brush too hard, as overly vigorous brushing can damage the gums
You shouldn’t brush immediately after consuming acidic food or drink such as wine and citrus fruit as the acids can soften the enamel of teeth, which can be eroded by brushing. To prevent this, drink or rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating or drinking. Ideally, wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking to brush your teeth.
2. Don’t forget to floss
Many of us don’t realise it, but flossing is just as important as brushing our teeth. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from places that a toothbrush can’t access, such as the small gaps between your teeth.
To floss effectively, you can use traditional floss or interdental brushes, which are small brushes specially designed to clean between your teeth where a regular brush cannot reach. Choose an interdental brush that can fit into the small gaps between your teeth then gently slide the brush head into these spaces, working your way around the whole mouth. You should not need to force the brush into the gaps between your teeth.
When flossing, slide the floss down between each tooth and carefully slide it below the gum line to ensure you get to those hard to reach places.
3. Cut back on sugar
Sugar is one of the biggest enemies of healthy teeth as it encourages plaque to develop and produce acid. This acid breaks down the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. If left unchecked and untreated, decay can tunnel deep into the teeth resulting in pain or tooth loss.
The foods to be most aware of are those with added and refined sugars, such as sweets, biscuits and pastries. When buying food, get in the habit of checking nutritional labels and opt for foods low in added sugars. Avoid sweet snacks which stick to your mouth such as toffee and sticky sweets, as these encourage even more plaque to develop.
4. Eat your sugar sensibly
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to cut sugar out completely- but try and eat it as part of meals, rather than as snacks. Saliva production rises during meals which helps rinse out food and acid from the mouth.
Sugar triggers the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that attack your tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. These acids do the most damage in the 20 minutes after eating, so the more regularly you eat sugary foods during the day, the more often you are exposing your teeth to these attacks. Try and keep any sugary treats to one portion during the day.
5. Visit the dentist for regular check-ups
You should visit the dentist or dental hygienist for a regular check-up as recommended by your dentist, depending on your dental health.
During a check-up, your dentist will check each tooth’s nooks and crannies, as well as looking at the gums and mouth to ensure there are no early signs of decay that need addressing before they do further damage. They will also be able to check for early warning signs of mouth cancer and other diseases.
Regular check-ups and hygiene appointments are essential for maintaining your oral health and spotting early warning signs of disease. With Bupa Smile Plan, you can spread the cost of scheduled routine dental check-ups and hygiene appointments into monthly bite-sized payments, as well as get fantastic discounts on a range of treatments and services.
Sign up for your Bupa Smile Plan today or contact your nearest practice for more information.
Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.
Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.