Having a clean mouth is important. In addition to being healthy it gives you fresher breath and a nicer smile.
When you eat bits of food, some too small for you to see, remain in your mouth. Bacteria can use this food and multiply into a sticky film on your teeth. This film is called plaque and is the root cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing your teeth after meals not only gets rid of the food particles but also removes plaque from your teeth. Using a fluoride toothpaste is important because fluoride can help kill bacteria as well as strengthening your teeth.
Ask your dentist to recommend the best toothbrush for you. Generally a brush with medium, end rounded or polished, man-made bristles is less likely to injure gum tissue. The size and shape of your brush should allow you to reach every tooth. Children may need smaller brushes than adults.
Remember, old or worn out toothbrushes cannot properly clean your teeth and may injure your gums. Always replace your toothbrush at least every three months. Electric toothbrushes can remove up to 40% more plaque than manual ones and can result in a cleaner, healthier mouth.
Flossing and interdental brushing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and below the gum line – areas that your toothbrush can’t reach. It is important to keep these areas clean as this is where tooth decay and gum disease often starts.
Flossing is a skill that needs to be learned so don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult at first. With practice it only needs to take a few minutes each day. Our oral health adviser, Lyn, can show you how to floss and other ways to clean between your teeth.
If used as directed these can help prevent decay and gum disease as well as freshening your breath. They are not, however, a substitute for good, effective brushing and interdental cleaning.
NICE guidelines state that every person should be assessed individually and seen between every 3 months and every 2 years depending on personal circumstances, oral health and other risk factors.