How to keep your teeth clean. 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.
Your dentist or hygienist may give you more advice based on your own dental health and needs.
Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?It doesn't matter whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush. They're both equally as good, as long as you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth and you use fluoride toothpaste. However, some people find it easier to clean their teeth thoroughly with an electric toothbrush.
What should I look for in a toothbrush?For most adults, a toothbrush with a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short round-end bristles is fine. Medium or soft bristles are best for most people.
If you're using an electric brush, one with an oscillating or rotating head may work better than a manual toothbrush.
However, making sure you thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice a day is more important than the type of brush you use. If in doubt, ask your dentist.
What type of toothpaste should I use?It's important to use a toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride. Check the packaging to find out how much fluoride each brand contains.
How to brush your teethMake sure you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth, which should take about two minutes. Remember to brush the inside surfaces, outside surfaces and the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
How to help children brush their teethChildren need to be helped or supervised brushing their teeth until they're at least seven years old.
Don't rinse with water straight after toothbrushingAfter brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste. Don't rinse your mouth immediately after brushing, as it will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste, thus diluting it and reducing its preventative effects.
Should I use mouthwash?Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay, but don't use mouthwash – even a fluoride one – straight after brushing your teeth or it will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste left on your teeth. Choose a different time to use mouthwash, such as after lunch. Don't eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.
How to use dental flossFlossing isn't just for dislodging food wedged between your teeth. Regular flossing may also reduce gum disease and bad breath by removing plaque that forms along the gum line. It's best to floss before brushing your teeth.
How to use interdental brushesYou can use interdental brushes or single-tufted brushes instead of flossing, especially if there are gaps between your teeth. The brush should fit snugly between the teeth.
Never use toothpicks to remove trapped food from between your teeth, as you may damage your gums, which could lead to an infection.
Your dentist or hygienist can advise you on the best way to use interdental cleaning for your teeth.