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Take care of your teeth and gums

Here's how you and your children can have healthy teeth and keep trips to the dentist to a minimum.

Brush your teeth twice a day

Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about two minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion every day to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats your teeth if you don't brush them properly. It contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.

Tooth brushing stops plaque building up. Try to make sure you brush every surface of all your teeth.

For further information on teeth cleaning please see the NHS website (external link).

Floss between your teeth

You're advised to use interdental brushes in addition to brushing as part of your daily oral health routine from the age of 12.

Some people may not have large enough spaces in between their teeth to use an interdental brush, so flossing can be a useful alternative.

Don't be too aggressive with the floss, you risk harming your gums. The main action of flossing is a firm but gentle scraping of the tooth from the top down.

For further information about why you should use dental floss see the NHS website (external link).

Cut down on sugar, and other lifestyle tips

Have a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, not smoking and limiting your alcohol and sugar intake. It's good for your whole body, including your teeth, gums and mouth.

For further lifestyle tips for healthy teeth see the NHS website (external link).

Brush baby teeth as soon as they come through

You can start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they start to come through. Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste.

Don't worry if you don't manage to brush much at first. The important thing is to get your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. You can help by setting a good example and letting them see you brushing your own teeth.

For further information about looking after your baby's teeth see the NHS website (external link).

Get children into a teeth cleaning routine

Help your child have healthy teeth for life by having a good dental health routine.

For further information about how to look after your children's teeth see the NHS website (external link).

Straighten crooked teeth with braces

The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to make the best of your teeth.

This includes straightening your teeth so you're able to care for your teeth and gums more easily, and improving your bite so you can eat more comfortably. And your smile will benefit, too.

Treatment almost always involves using braces to straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth, close gaps between teeth, and correct the bite so the top and bottom teeth meet when the mouth is closed.

Treatment usually lasts from 18 months to 2 years, and visits to the orthodontist are needed every 6 to 8 weeks.

For further information about getting braces see the NHS website (external link).

Have regular dental check ups

Have regular check-ups with your dentist. Don't put off going for a check-up. Detecting problems early can mean they're easier to treat.

If problems aren't treated, they may lead to damage that's harder, or even impossible, to repair.

For more information about dental check ups please see the NHS website (external link).

Don't delay with dental treatments

There are a wide range of dental treatments available. Some, such as fillings and root canal treatment, are readily available on the NHS.

Others, such as cosmetic dentistry, are only available on the NHS in certain circumstances.

For more information about dental treatments please see the NHS website (external link).

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