The best ways to prevent dental problems

Here are some tips for preventing problems with your teeth and gums.

Brush, floss and mouthwash. It is very important that you keep up a good routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy at home. We recommend that you brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss your teeth too, because brushing alone only cleans up to about 60 percent of the surface of your teeth. Finally, use a mouthwash to dislodge more food debris and freshen your breath.

Use the right toothbrush. It is usually recommended that adults use a toothbrush with a small- to-medium-sized head and soft to medium filaments (bristles). Tests have shown that electric toothbrushes with an oscillating, rotating action are better than manual brushes at removing plaque. If you are unsure ask your dentist or hygienist for the one that best suits your needs.

Cut down the sugary food and drinks. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruit juices and fizzy drinks can be harmful if taken often in large amounts. That’s why it’s a good idea to limit acidic food and drinks to meal times. It is also recommended that you do not brush your teeth for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything, so that they can build up the mineral content again. Using a straw when you have fizzy drinks also helps the drink to go to the back of the mouth and reduces the acid attacks on the teeth.

Chew sugar-free gum. This stimulates saliva and stops your mouth drying out and can help to prevent dental decay and erosion.

Be aware of what smoking and drinking can do. Smoking can cause tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss and mouth cancer. If you smoke you may need to visit the dentist more often, but the best advice is to try and give up. Alcoholic drinks can also cause mouth cancer and if you smoke and drink you are more at risk.

Visit your dentist if you have symptoms of gum disease. Symptoms like red, swollen or bleeding gums, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, bad breath, loose teeth or regular mouth infections all need looking into sooner rather than later.

Always tell your dentist about any changes to your general health. It is especially important to tell them if you are pregnant or have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or have ever had a stroke. You also need to tell them about any medicines you are taking as these can affect both your treatment and the health of your mouth.

Look after yourself from head to toe. A recent study has shown that fit and healthy people are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease. It was also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits made a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease.