Taking good care of your teeth and gums on a daily basis can help reduce dental problems you might have in the future.
General dental and mouth care advice include:
- Maintain a good standard of oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque – once in the morning and once before you go to bed.
- Thorough brushing with either a manual or electric toothbrush should take around two minutes.
- Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months.
- Floss between your teeth to remove plaque.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid too many sweet foods and sugary drinks. Where possible limit them to mealtimes.
- Avoid drinking too much coffee.
- Have regular dental check ups – everyone should have dental check ups. Your dentist will tell you how often you should have yours, it can vary from every 3–24 months depending on factors such as your age, general health and dental history.
- Antibacterial mouthwashes (available from your pharmacist) may also help fight plaque and bacteria. Talk to your dentist first to see if mouthwash is right for you.
- Chew sugar-free gum to encourage the flow of saliva in your mouth.
- To keep your breath fresh, try to limit the amount of alcohol, garlic, onions, curries and strong-flavoured fish in your diet.
- If you smoke, try to cut down or quit.
If you develop halitosis (bad breath) maintain good oral hygiene for three days. If the problem persists, make an appointment with your doctor to get a further assessment and advice on managing the problem.
When to seek further help
If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should visit your dentist to discuss your symptoms:
- pus coming from your gums
- a bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away
- loose teeth caused by infected gums
- any abscesses that develop – these can be under your teeth and will usually be very painful.
If you develop any of the following symptoms with your mouth problems, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible:
- any difficulty talking or swallowing
- swollen lymph glands in your neck
- a fever (a temperature over 38⁰C).
Last reviewed: August 2015