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The Big Three:

Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste.

  • For children three to six years old inclusive, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste not less than 1000ppm (parts per million) fluoride.
  • For adults and children over 7 years, use a toothpaste containing 1500ppm fluoride.
  • Gently scrub each tooth thoroughly using a brush with a small head with soft to medium filaments.
  • Spit, don't rinse after brushing. This gives toothpaste time to work to protect teeth.

Try to limit the amount and the frequency of sugar intake.

  • Food and drinks containing sugars should be limited between meals, as should acidic drinks such as diet juices and fruit juices.
  • When snacking between meals go for the healthier option, this is the best way to stay decay free and stay healthy. Healthier snacks include those that are sugar free, low in saturated fats and low in salt such as breads, vegetables and fresh fruit. Products containing natural sugars such as fruit will not cause tooth decay whereas those that contain refined sugar such as chocolate, sweets, cereal bars, cakes and biscuits will.
  • Watch out for the different names of sugars: sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltodextrin, hydolysed starch, lactose, maltose, brown sugar, honey, malt, treacle and syrup.
  • Remember : 10g of sugar or more per 100g is 'a lot' of sugar
                        2g of sugar or less per 100g is 'a little' sugar
  • Plain milk and water are the only safe drinks for teeth. Flavoured water often contains high quantities of sugar.

Register with a dentist and attend regularly.

As from 1 April 2010, dental registration is not time limited. However, it is important that you attend a dentist regularly. 

  • Regular dental attendance is recommended to allow the dentist to:
    • Check signs for early decay.
    • Restore the tooth before decay progresses.
    • Give advice on keeping the mouth healthy.
    • Offer specialist dental treatment and advice.
    • Carry out preventive treatments.
    • Check for and diagnose mouth cancer early.

Everyone, irrespective of age and dental condition, should have regular oral examinations – yearly for those under 18 years of age and at intervals of no more than two years for all adults.

This advice also applies to those without any natural teeth. Children and those at risk from oral diseases may need to be seen more frequently, as advised by the dentist. Smokers and drinkers have an increased risk of oral disease so may need to be seen more frequently by a dentist.

Additional Advice

Electric toothbrushes

  • Some electric toothbrushes have been shown to be better at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes and will especially benefit those who find it difficult to brush their teeth.
  • Electric toothbrushes with batteries lose power so they are not as effective as those you can charge.
  • See your dental health professional for advice.

Dental Floss

  • Dental floss will help to remove plaque and food from in between the teeth and other areas where the toothbrush may miss.
  • Flossing helps to prevent plaque build up and keep gums healthy.

Mouthwash

  • Mouthwash will freshen breath but good thorough toothbrushing is sufficient to maintain good oral health.
  • Mouthwash should not be used as an alternative to toothbrushing.
  • Use mouthwash at a different time to brushing your teeth, for example, after school or work.
  • If you use mouthwash, make sure it contains fluoride and does not contain alcohol. 

Mouth Cancer

  • People who smoke and drink regularly are at more risk for developing mouth cancer.
  • Survival from mouth cancer increases if detected early so it is important to visit your dentist regularly, even if you have no natural teeth. If in doubt, get checked out. Early detection saves lives.

You can reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer by:

  • Stopping smoking.
  • Reducing your consumption of alcohol to the recommended daily limits.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables.
Link to the Service Finder tool
Link to the Alcohol and Drug Action Team website
Link to the Stop Smoking Service web page