When should I brush my teeth?
Brush your teeth for about two minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion everyday.
Your dentist or hygienist may give you further 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 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 be more effective than a manual toothrush.
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.
- All children can use family toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm (parts per million) fluoride, providing you supervise brushing up until the age of seven and make sure children don't lick or eat toothpaste from the tube. Children under six who don't have tooth decay can use a lower-strength children's toothpaste, but make sure it contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride.
- Below the age of three, children should use just a smear of toothpaste.
- Children aged between three and six years should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste.
- Children over the age of seven and young adults should use a toothpaste that contains 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride.
- Adults should use a toothpaste that contains at least 1,350ppm fluoride.
Your dentist may advise you or your child to use a toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride if you need it.
It's fine for babies and children to use the family toothpaste rather than a special children's toothpaste, provided it contains the right concentration of fluoride. Don't let children lick or eat toothpaste from the tube.
How to brush your teeth
Make 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.
After brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste, but don't rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
If you need any more information on your toothbrushing technique, speak to your dental team.
Children need to be helped or supervised brushing their teeth until they're at least seven years old.
How to floss
Flossing 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.
- Take 12-18 inches (30-45cm) of floss or dental tape and grasp it so you have a couple of inches of floss taut between your hands.
- Slip the floss or dental tape between the teeth and into the area between your teeth and gums as far as it will go.
- Floss with 8-10 strokes, up and down between each tooth, to dislodge food and plaque.
Read about why it's important to floss.
How to use interdental brushes
You 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 will be able to advise you on the best way to use interdental cleaning for your teeth.
Read more about interdental brushes.
Should I use mouthwash?
Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, but don't use mouthwash straight after brushing your teeth. Choose a different time, such as after lunch. And don't eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.
Read answers to the most common questions that people have about dental health, including: