Oral hygiene

Oral hygiene tips for healthy teeth and gums

For children, brushing should start as soon as the first milk tooth erupts. Up to age 7, children should use a children’s toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm Fluoride

Children under 3 should use just a thin smear of toothpaste (less than pea-sizes). Ages 3-6 should use a pea-sized amount. Try to ensure a minimum amount of toothpaste is swallowed.

Brushing should be carried out for at least 2 minutes at least twice a day, before or not less than 30 minutes after eating. Shortly after eating, the teeth can be softened by an acid attack, and be more susceptible to wear from toothbrush pressure.

Brushing in a systematic manner can reduce the chance of an area being missed. A good system is to concentrate brushing in just 1 quarter of the mouth at a time for 30 seconds, before moving onto the second, third and fourth quarters for 30 seconds each, (e.g. Upper right > Upper left > Lower left > Lower right)

If using an electric toothbrush, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as they are designed to be used with a different technique to a manual brush and to each other.

It is very important to brush your gums as well as your teeth. Do not be put off if your gums bleed as a result of this. It is usually a sign that the gums are inflamed (gingivitis), but you cause no damage if they bleed. On the contrary, thorough brushing removes the bacteria and helps the gums to become more healthy.

Disclosing tablets which stain plaque can be useful to check if you have missed any areas.

After brushing, spit out but do not rinse. This allows the fluoride in the toothpaste to stay in contact with the tooth surface for longer, enhancing its strengthening effects.

Cleaning between the teeth

The areas between teeth make up to 40% of the tooth surface. A toothbrush or mouthwash will never clean between the teeth effectively which makes these areas the most common sites for tooth decay and gum disease.

It is therefore vital to clean between all the teeth once a day to prevent tooth decay and gum disease

The most effective way to clean between the teeth is by using interdental brushes. Your dentist or hygienist can help you decide which is the best size to use. If your teeth are too tight to fit the brushes, then flossing is the next best alternative.

How-to videos – using floss and interdental brushes

Interdental brushes

Flossing

 

Using a mouthwash

Using a mouthwash can be beneficial in some cases. Your dentist or hygienist can advise you if you would benefit. To protect the teeth, the best type is a fluoride mouthwash. To protect the gums, the best type is a Chlorhexidine mouthwash such as Corsodyl. Mouthwashes are not substitutes for brushing and should only be used in addition to thorough cleaning with a toothbrush and interdental cleaner. If you do use a mouthwash, they are only effective if used 30 minutes before or after brushing.