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Brushing our teeth is the most important thing we can do to have good oral health.

Just two minutes twice a day, last thing at night and at one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste is all that’s needed to give our teeth the care they deserve.

This is because brushing removes plaque. If plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up and could lead to a number of oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease. Over time, this can lead to tooth loss.

When should I brush my teeth?

It is best to brush your teeth last thing at night, before you go to bed. You should also brush them at one other point during the day.

You should brush your teeth for two minutes. That’s all it takes to brush your teeth effectively.

Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric one, it’s important that you take the time to cover the surfaces of your teeth and all areas of your mouth.

Don’t rinse with water straight after brushing

Remember to spit out after brushing and do not rinse your mouth with water. This helps the fluoride stay on your teeth longer.

Electric or manual?

Both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Your dental team will be able to recommend a toothbrush suitable for your needs.

Electric toothbrushes have oscillating rotating or vibrating heads. Tests show these toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque.

Everyone can benefit from an electric brush.

They are particularly useful those with limited movement, such as disabled or elderly people.

As many now come with mobile apps, they can also be better for children, who are motivated by the interactive nature of using an electric brush.

What should I look for in a toothbrush?

Adults should be looking for a small-to-medium-sized brush head. This should have soft-to-medium, multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles or ‘filaments’. The head should be small enough to reach all parts of the mouth – especially the back of the mouth where it can be difficult to reach.

Children should use smaller brushes but with the same type of filaments.

It is now possible to buy more specialised toothbrushes. For instance, if you suffer from sensitive teeth, you can now use softer-bristled brushes.

There are also smaller brush heads for those with irregular-shaped teeth.

Some may also find it difficult to hold a toothbrush, for example because of limited movements or disabilities. There are now toothbrushes which have large handles and angled heads to make them easier to use.

When should I change my toothbrush?

Worn-out toothbrushes cannot clean your teeth properly and may damage your gums.

It is important to change your toothbrush, or toothbrush head (for electric users) every two-to-three months, or sooner if the filaments become worn.

When bristles become splayed, they do not clean properly.

How do I pick a toothpaste?

A pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste should be used when brushing your teeth.

Everybody older than three-years-old should use a toothpaste with between 1350ppm to 1500ppm of fluoride. This is enough to help strengthen your teeth and protect you from tooth decay.

As well as regular toothpastes, there are many specialised toothpastes. These include tartar control for people who get tartar build-up, and a choice of toothpastes for people with sensitive teeth. ‘Total care’ toothpastes include ingredients to help fight gum disease, freshen breath and reduce plaque build-up. ‘Whitening’ toothpastes are good at removing staining to help restore the natural colour of your teeth.

Should I use a mouthwash?

A fluoride mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay. Your dental team may recommend an antibacterial mouthwash to help control plaque and reduce gum disease.

If you find that you are regularly using a mouthwash just to freshen your breath see your dental team, because bad breath can be a sign of unhealthy teeth and gums or of poor general health.

How should I clean between my teeth?

You can clean between your teeth with an ‘interdental’ brush or dental floss.

Cleaning in between your teeth removes plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and under your gumline – areas a toothbrush can’t reach.

When flossing or using interdental brushes, keep to a regular pattern and remember not to miss any teeth. It helps to look in the mirror.

Don’t forget the backs of your last teeth. It is also very important to clean around the edges of any crowns, bridges or implants.

You should clean between your teeth at least once a day. Your dental team can show you how to clean between your teeth properly.

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