Smile please – it’s National Smile Month!

Mid-May to mid-June is National Smile Month, and it is a great opportunity to remind people that their oral health is very much their own responsibility, and that the more effort they put in to looking after their teeth, the less likely they will be to suffer oral disease and toothache.

Here are a few words of advice to help keep your mouth healthy and your smile bright:

Food and drink

  • Try to limit the amount of sugary and acidic foods and drinks you consume. Sugary drinks and snacks between meals will harm teeth
  • Between meals try tooth friendly snacks like cheese, fruit and vegetable sticks (e.g carrot, cucumber), breadsticks, marmite or butter on toast, rice cakes, or a bowl of non-sugary cereal with milk (don’t add sugar or honey!)
  • Limit dried fruit between meals as it is high in sugar and can stick to teeth
  • Do not eat sugary foods or drinks just before bed, only drink water
  • Keep sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and other “treats” for pudding or as part of a meal.

Brushing your teeth

To keep teeth happy and healthy follow this brushing code:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Always last thing at night and then at one other time during the day (lots of people choose first thing in the morning – this should be before breakfast).
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. You only need to use a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a pea.
  • Adults and children over three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of 1350ppm to 1500ppm (parts per million). This will be printed in tiny numbers on both the box and the tube so have a look and see how much is in yours.
  • Use a toothbrush with a small head. This will help you to clean the back teeth and in all the tiny spaces
  • Spit, don’t rinse! Do not send the fluoride down the plughole!
  • Brush teeth in a special order: and make sure you get all five surfaces of each tooth (biting/chewing surface, front, back, inside and outside)
  • Be gentle! Use circular or tiny side to side movements – don’t scrub gums away
  • Brush the gums where they meet the teeth gently using the same circular or tiny side to side movement
  • A disclosing tablet may help to show any areas you might have missed. These are available from the dentist or chemist and contain a vegetable dye which will show up any plaque you have missed when brushing.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly. A three-month old toothbrush is 30 per cent less effective at removing plaque than a new one
  • If using a powered toothbrush make sure it is charged or change the batteries regularly so the brush remains effective.