Oral health

Information on caring for your teeth and how to access dental care.

Keep on smiling

Access to dental treatment is slowly recovering after the pandemic. In some cases, there may be limited access. With this in mind, there has never been a better time to protect that smile and follow preventative dental and oral hygiene routines to maintain healthy teeth for all the family:

  • Always wash hands before brushing your teeth – as oral hygiene routines involves touching the face and mouth, it is important to ensure good hand hygiene before brushing or caring for your teeth. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Watch the NHS washing your hands video.
  • Don’t share toothbrushes – toothbrushes harbour a lot of germs and are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, so therefore no matter how close your family member, it is advisable to never share toothbrushes to avoid spread of these germs.
  • Change toothbrushes regularly – toothbrushes can harbour a lot of germs, so it is essential to change your toothbrush on a regular basis, ideally every three months or earlier if the bristles become frayed.
  • Store toothbrushes individually and upright to air dry – avoid toothbrush covers as they limit the toothbrush head to dry and can cause increased germ build up. Store your toothbrush stood upright to air dry, but remember to leave it separate and not touching other toothbrush heads to limit the spread of germs.
  • Toilet lid down – many of us have sinks close to toilets. Keep this in mind when flushing to avoid faecal particles spreading to toothbrushes or soap dispensers.
  • Clean the bathroom regularly – especially high touch surfaces such as door handles, taps, sinks, light switches and toilet areas.
  • Brush teeth twice daily for two minutes with a fluoride containing toothpaste (fluoride content at least 1000ppm) – one occasion being last thing at night before bed.
  • After brushing spit out any excess toothpaste in the sink – don’t swill your mouth out with water at the end of brushing as this will wash away the remaining fluoride toothpaste on your teeth and reduce the preventative action of brushing.
  • Limit sugary food and drinks to a minimum – Plaque bacteria use sugars to create acid that in turn attacks the tooth enamel, if sugary items are eaten frequently throughout the day, acid can build up and attack the tooth enamel if not enough time between sugary drinks or snacks is given for the saliva to repair or break down the impact on the tooth enamel.

Further information

Children under eight years of age

Brushing should be supervised and use of appropriate toothpaste amounts / requirements.

Children under three years of age

Use a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Children over three years of age

Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste.

See further NHS information around caring for children’s teeth – includes useful visual images of toothpaste amounts and ways to make brushing a bit more fun i.e. Brush DJ 2 minute timer app

If you feel you have an urgent dental care situation which you require advice or support with:

  • During normal working hours – contact your usual dentist for a telephone consultation and triage – they can advise on care for your individual situation and advise if you need to access emergency care
  • If your dentist is closed or you’re not currently registered with a dentist – contact NHS 111 by accessing their website 111. NHS.uk or calling 111
  • Your local pharmacist may also be able to support with appropriate over the counter products for pain relief or advice on temporary home-care options

Why not check out the Change4Life Sugar Smart app designed to let you know quickly how much sugar is in some of the things you may be regularly buying and help to inform healthier choices. Also further details about sugar and making healthier choices are available on the Change4life webpage

Keep hydrated – Keeping hydrated is essential for oral health and our general health too. Water and milk options are best for our oral health. Try to avoid having drinks high in sugar such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices or energy drinks too frequently throughout the day.

Check out healthy drink swap ideas on Change4Life webpage

NHS Eatwell – Water, drinks and your health

Eatwell guide – information on portion guidance and suggested water intake throughout the day

Avoid Smoking – Reducing or stopping smoking altogether can improve your health in many ways by reducing your chances of heart disease, cancers and lung and respiratory problems. It can also help to reduce the severity of Coronavirus symptoms if you contracted the virus and help prevent oral health problems such as gum disease and oral cancers too.

Help to stop is  available from the Healthy Lifestyle Service. They can help you build a plan to quit and set a quit date that works for you, discuss options to support a quit attempt such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), and provide hints and tips on remaining Smokefree.

To access support contact North Lincolnshire Healthy Lifestyle Service on nlc.healthylifestyles@nhs.net or 01724 297000