Your oral health care routine
There's more to good oral health than remembering to brush your teeth twice a day. Here are tips to help your teeth last a lifetime:
1. How often to see a dentist
Some people need to see a dentist more often than others. It could be as often as every 3 months or as long as every 2 years. This will depend on the current condition of your teeth and gums, and some health conditions can make problems in the mouth more likely. This includes diabetes and undergoing cancer treatments. Pregnancy hormonal changes put the gums more at risk of problems, but the good news is the NHS makes dental treatment free for pregnant women.
2. Should I see a hygienist?
Ask your dentist. Some dentists still do scaling and polishing - removing plaque and deposits from areas missed by your own brushing - but in many cases they will recommend a specialist hygienist for a separate cleaning appointment. You may need to see the hygienist more often than the dentist, depending on individual needs.
3. Look out for any changes in your mouth
If teeth become more sensitive, if gums bleed when brushing your teeth, if you chip a tooth or lose a filling, don’t put off booking a dental appointment. The sooner the dentist identifies the problem, the sooner action can be taken to help prevent further damage.
4. Daily oral health care
Many people may just need to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to maintain good oral health. However, your dentist or hygienist will make individual recommendations. This may include flossing, interdental brushes or using mouthwash.
5. Watch what you eat and drink
Sugary and acidic food and drinks are the enemy of your teeth and gums - so limit these to help avoid tooth enamel erosion and stained teeth.
6. Spit don’t rinse
The NHS recommends just spitting out toothpaste from your mouth after brushing and not rinsing. That way fluoride in the toothpaste stays on the teeth rather than being washed away.
7. Don’t rush to brush
Your tooth enamel is softer after eating, and brushing too soon after a meal can remove some of this important coating. The Oral Health Foundation recommends waiting an hour after a meal before brushing, and to freshen up in between, consider sugar-free chewing gum.
7. Quit smoking
Smoking doesn’t just stain the teeth and make breath smell, it makes gum disease and other problems in the mouth more likely.