Oral health is an important aspect of general health and wellbeing.
Our teeth play an important role in our lives and a healthy smile can be a great asset.
Teeth help us chew and digest a variety of food, they help us to talk and speak clearly and they also give our face its shape.
A healthy smile can also improve our confidence and emotional wellbeing and help us in other things such as our careers and relationships.
Poor oral health can result in pain, tooth loss, bad breath, sleepless nights and time off school and work. There is also increasing evidence that poor oral health can be linked with problems in other parts of the body, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, lung disease and giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
Tooth decay in children and adults is very common, affecting up to 24% of 5 year olds in England and 15% of 5 year olds in Hampshire. It is almost entirely preventable and the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 5-9 nationally.
Tooth decay in children is serious, as it can impact on their ability to sleep, eat, speak, play, learn and develop, while also causing pain, infections and impaired growth.
Our Public Health expert Rob Carroll offers a few simple tips on how we can look after our teeth however old we are.
Good dental health begins with you. By following these simple tips you can keep your mouth clean and healthy.
- Parents should start brushing their child’s teeth at night and at one other time as soon as the first tooth appears.
Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride for 0-3 year olds and a pea-sized blob of toothpaste for all other ages.
- You should supervise your child’s tooth brushing until they are a least 7 years old. Ask your child to spit out the toothpaste froth and avoid rinsing.
This will allow their teeth to benefit from the fluoride in the toothpaste for longer.
- Children should be taken to see a dentist as soon as they have teeth and then every 3-6 months or as recommended by the dentist. Ask your dentist if they provide fluoride varnish applications and if these would be suitable for your child.
- Adults should brush their teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, using toothpaste which contains at least 1350ppm of fluoride. While there is evidence that some electric toothbrushes can be more effective for plaque control than manual tooth brushes, it is more important that you brush for two minutes twice daily.
- Change your toothbrush (or your electric toothbrush head) every two to three months, or sooner if the bristles become worn or splayed.
- To help you and you children to brush your teeth, try the free, award-winning Brush DJ mobile phone app. It plays music on your phone to encourage you to brush for two minutes. You can also set time alerts to remind you to brush your teeth, change your toothbrush and to visit your dentist. Find out more at www.brushdj.com
- You should go to a dentist for a check-up at least once a year, or more frequently as recommended by your dentist.
This will help you to look after your teeth. NHS Dental check-ups and treatment are free for children under 18, young people under 19 and in full time education, pregnant women and women who have had a baby in the last 12 months and people who are on certain benefits or credits.
- Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay.
Be careful to try to avoid sugary food and drink, including fruit juices and fizzy drinks in between meals. Milk, water, tea or coffee (with no added sugar) are the safest drinks for your teeth. Any other drinks should be consumed at mealtimes.
- If you have toothache you should contact a local NHS dentist or call 111. Do not go to your GP or A&E as they will not be able to treat your teeth.
- For help in finding an NHS Dentist in Hampshire visit the Hampshire Dental Helpline