Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping your teeth and gums healthy is important not just for your mouth, but for your overall health. However, very few of us follow a thorough oral hygiene routine on a daily basis, even if we know better.
In our selection of articles on this topic you'll find information on:
- Common problems linked to oral hygiene
- Ways to improve your oral hygiene
- Products that can make it easier to clean your teeth and maintain healthy gums
- Seeing a dental hygienist
Our aim is to empower you to make better decisions about your oral health, so we hope you find this information useful.
Table of contents
- 1 How to brush your teeth
- 2 Toothbrushes
- 3 Toothpaste
- 4 Flossing
- 5 Mouthwash
- 6 Tongue scrapers
- 7 Dental plaque and tartar
- 8 Plaque disclosing tablets
- 9 Bad breath
- 10 Scale and polish at the dentist
How to brush your teeth
Let's start with the basics: are you brushing your teeth often enough, for long enough, and using the correct technique? If you don't get this right, you're at increased risk of cavities, gum disease, bad breath and a whole load of other dental complications.
However, a large number of Brits are brushing their teeth wrong. Whether it's only brushing once a day, scrubbing too hard, rinsing after you brush, or using a brush that's too big, there are a whole load of things that can sabotage your brushing routine. Check out some interesting oral hygiene statistics here.
Do yourself a favour and read our guide to brushing teeth to see whether you need to change some habits.
Brushing your teeth each and every day is the most important step in your oral hygiene routine. However, many people get into the motions of brushing their teeth fast to get it done. It’s important that you brush your teeth correctly for optimal oral health. Here are some things to remember:
- You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.
- When brushing, move in small, circular motions and be sure to focus gently on the gumline.
- Don’t brush your teeth too hard, as this can weaken your enamel and also cause bleeding gums.
- Change your toothbrush at least every three months, or as soon as you’ve recovered from an illness. If you have an electric toothbrush, be sure you’re changing the head this frequently as well.
Dr. Ania Mohelicki, Dr. Ania
If you want to take good care of your teeth, it's important to choose the right toothbrush. These guides will take you through all the things to consider and the best products on the market, whether it's an electric or manual toothbrush you're after.
Electric toothbrush guide
Many people find that an electric toothbrush helps them do a better job of cleaning their teeth than a manual brush. Not just because powered brushes take away the job of manual scrubbing, but because of the technology they use to encourage good brushing habits.
You might be familiar with brushes that have a timer and a pressure sensor, but toothbrushes have come a long way in the last few years. The newest models use AI to track how you brush and train you to do a better job, via a mobile app.
Of course, these advanced features come at a price. Our electric toothbrush guide will help you work out what's important to you, what's worth paying more for, and which brand and model would best suit your oral hygiene needs.
If you already know that you want a brush from one of the biggest names, Oral-B or Philips Sonicare, you'll find yourself spoiled for choice. Check out our guide to the best Oral-B electric toothbrushes and our Sonicare toothbrush reviews to find the right one for you. Or jump straight to our review of the iO toothbrush, the latest high-tech model from Oral-B.
Manual toothbrush guide
If you prefer to use a manual toothbrush, it's still important to find one that will help you keep your teeth clean. Not all toothbrushes are equal, believe it or not, and our manual toothbrush guide explains why.
Discover what to look for when choosing a toothbrush and which brushes are best for certain oral health needs including gum disease, teeth whitening, and brushing braces and dentures.
Did you know the average person gets through around 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime? That’s a lot of plastic going to landfill, which is why more and more people are turning to eco toothbrush options.
Bamboo toothbrushes are a popular choice. They have a simple design, replacing the plastic handle with a wooden one for a dramatic reduction in waste at the end of the product’s life. Other environmentally-friendly options include brushes made from plant-based plastics and designs where only the brush head is replaced.
Find out how you can make your brushing less wasteful in our guide to bamboo toothbrushes and other eco options.
Electric toothbrushes for children
It can often be a struggle to get children to brush their teeth twice a day, let alone spend two minutes on it and do a thorough job. If this is something you can relate to, an electric toothbrush might just help.
With fun characters, timers, and app connectivity, electric toothbrushes for children are designed to offer that extra encouragement and motivation to brush properly.
In our guide to kids' electric toothbrushes you can read about the various features that might help your child take good care of their teeth and develop good oral hygiene habits for life. We review various battery-powered and rechargeable brushes so you can decide what's best for your little one.
Manual toothbrushes for babies and children
If you'd rather keep things simple, a manual brush can still clean your child's teeth effectively. Manual brushing actually requires specific motor skills, which children can loose if they switch to an electric brush too early. There are also special types of baby toothbrush which are ideal for keeping their teeth clean while they are still teething.
Read our guide to manual toothbrushes for babies and children for information about how to choose a brush appropriate to your child's age, plus other things to consider.
Almost as important as your toothbrush is your toothpaste. There are endless options available so we help you figure out what to look for and what to avoid as you search for a toothpaste to suit your needs and tastes.
Toothpaste for adults
The choice of toothpastes available in the supermarket can be bewildering – and that’s before you even look at the selection online. The easiest option might be to always stick to the same one you’ve always used, but do you know if it’s really the best toothpaste for your oral health needs?
Whether you want whiter or less sensitive teeth, or want to help a problem like gum disease or bad breath, there’s a toothpaste for that. There are also plenty of alternatives to the main brands if you want to avoid certain ingredients or flavours.
Check out our guide to toothpaste for adults to find out whether it’s time for you to switch. We have plenty of product recommendations so you can choose a toothpaste that really works for you.
If it's whitening toothpaste that you're after, you'll find there are so many different options that we created a separate guide just for this. Read about the best whitening toothpastes available in the UK to learn more.
Toothpaste for children and babies
Children's toothpaste differs from adult toothpaste in a number of ways. First, the fluoride concentration is a little lower (or you might opt for a fluoride-free variety for young kids who still swallow it). Second, it should have a low level of abrasiveness. And third, babies and children might not like the strong mint flavour that's common in adult toothpastes.
Read our kids' toothpaste guide to get more information about the most suitable toothpaste for your child, whatever their age. We have some product recommendations to help narrow down your options, including plenty of mint-free variants for children who prefer different flavours.
If you prefer to avoid artificial chemicals where possible, you may prefer to use a natural toothpaste or even make your own at home. Our natural toothpaste guide explains which ingredients are in most commercial toothpastes and what they do, so you can make an informed choice about what you use to brush your teeth.
You can read about some of the best natural toothpastes in the UK, including what other people think of them. We also feature some recipes for making your own toothpaste at home, if you fancy giving it a try.
You might want to try out oil pulling – not as an alternative to brushing your teeth – but as a supplementary natural way to reduce bacteria, freshen your breath, and perhaps even brighten your teeth.
Brushing your teeth only cleans three out of five surfaces, so it's important to floss daily as well. But wait – before you scroll past – know that traditional floss is not the only way to complement your oral hygiene routine. If you don't get on with string floss, there are alternative products that can make flossing a less annoying part of your oral hygiene routine.
How to floss
In our guide to flossing you can read about why it's important to floss and how to incorporate it in your daily routine. Discover the various types of dental floss and other flossing products which are designed to clean between your teeth.
If you experience pain or bleeding gums when you first floss, it might just be that you're doing a good job of dislodging plaque. But, you could also be doing it wrong. Check some common mistakes and ensure you're using the right technique to floss effectively without damaging your gums.
Water flossers, also called oral irrigators, shoot a high-powered jet of water between your teeth to remove food debris and loosen plaque. If you're not a fan of string floss and tend not to bother, a water flosser is probably the next best thing to get your teeth cleaning back on track.
But there are several decisions to make before you make your purchase. Countertop or cordless? How many power settings? Are different tips necessary? Which brand is best? Choosing the right product for your needs should be much simpler once you've consulted our water flosser guide. We also have some tips for using them without making too much mess…
You can jump straight to our top water flosser pick – the MyDenTeeth iFloss1. It comes at a very affordable price but has some great user-friendly features and delivers a strong jet of water for thorough cleaning.
We also have some detailed Waterpik reviews for you to read. Waterpik is the biggest water flosser brand in the UK but isn't always the best value.
Interdental toothbrushes are small brushes specially designed to clean between teeth. They’re an effective alternative to flossing without being quite so fiddly, and they come in a range of sizes and designs to suit different sized spaces in your mouth. Interdental brushes also make it much easier to clean around braces and floss under the archwire.
Our interdental brush guide should answer any questions you have about which brands to consider, which type of brush would suit you best, and how to know if you’re using the right size. We explain how to use them properly and answer some other common questions. Plus, if you’re worried about all that disposable plastic, we have some recommendations for more eco-friendly options.
Flossing with braces
Normal flossing can be difficult and time-consuming, but having a metal wire blocking the way makes it even more so. At the same time, braces create lots of places for food to get stuck. Fortunately, there are special types of floss that can make flossing with braces easier – or you may decide to invest in a water flosser and save your sanity.
Either way, check out our guide to flossing with braces so you know the best ways to keep your teeth clean while they're being straightened.
Eco-friendly dental floss
Traditional dental floss can be pretty wasteful, especially if you're using it every day as recommended. Fortunately there are a variety of biodegradable floss products which don't contain plastic, so it's easy to switch if you want to reduce your plastic waste.
Our eco floss guide explains all the options, including floss made from bamboo, silk and corn. It make take a bit of getting used to, but you'll feel good knowing you're not throwing out hundreds of metres of floss that's harmful to the environment.
There are so many mouthwash brands out there, it’s hard to know where to begin when choosing one. Do you even need to use mouthwash at all?
While certain types of mouthwash can be beneficial for different reasons, it’s important to know how to use your mouth rinse properly. Otherwise, your teeth could be worse off than if you hadn’t used one at all.
Our mouthwash guide explains how to use mouthwash correctly and which are the best mouthwashes for things like gum disease, sensitive teeth, dry mouth and bad breath.
Have you ever wondered if you should be cleaning your tongue better? The bacteria that build up on the surface of your tongue can contribute to bad breath and a number of other oral health problems. You might have tried brushing your tongue with a toothbrush, but that’s really not as effective as using a tongue scraper which is specially designed for this purpose.
There are different styles of tongue scraper available to buy, so check out our tongue cleaning guide to find out which would suit you best. You can choose from plastic, copper and stainless steel in various designs with different benefits. We also explain the best technique for cleaning your tongue without gagging – a problem that many people experience.
Dental plaque and tartar
Ever wondered why it's so important to brush your teeth in the first place, or what that fuzzy coating is that builds up when you let your oral hygiene slip? That would be plaque, a film of bacteria which feed off the food particles in your mouth.
Plaque is simple enough to remove with your daily brushing and flossing. But, if you don't get it all off, it quickly hardens into tartar. This mineral deposit clings to your teeth and can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
Read all about plaque and tartar here, including how to remove plaque and which foods and drinks to avoid to keep those bacteria at bay.
Plaque disclosing tablets
Do you wish you could see the plaque left behind on your teeth after you brush and floss? Well, with plaque disclosing tablets, you can. These chewable tablets contain a dye which sticks to plaque and shows you exactly where you need to concentrate when you clean your teeth.
Also available as a liquid solution, plaque disclosers can really help you make sure you brush and floss more thoroughly. They are safe for kids to use too, and can provide some much-needed motivation to brush properly!
It’s normal to get bad breath after consuming certain foods and drinks, but if you think your breath often smells, there might be something else that needs attention. Poor oral hygiene is a major cause of halitosis (chronic bad breath), so you may just need to clean your teeth and mouth better. It could also be that a dental problem or other health issue is making your breath stinky.
Read all about what causes bad breath and what to do if halitosis seems to be an ongoing problem for you. And if you just need to freshen your breath up quickly? We have some natural remedies as well as recommendations for mouthwash and breath spray.
Scale and polish at the dentist
Even with the best oral hygiene routine, it’s hard to remove all the plaque from your teeth, all the time. When tartar builds up, the only way to remove it is with a professional teeth cleaning at the dentist, known as a scale and polish.
Find out what a scale and polish involves, how much it costs, and how long it usually takes. Will it hurt? Well, it depends how much cleaning is needed. Scraping tartar off your teeth may be a little uncomfortable, and your gums might be sore for a while afterwards. If you have major tartar buildup, your dentist may give you an anaesthetic to numb your mouth during the teeth scaling.
At the end of it, though, you’ll have teeth that feel squeaky clean.