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 Flossing
- 4 Dental plaque and tartar
- 5 Plaque disclosing tablets
- 6 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.
Do yourself a favour and check out our guide to brushing teeth to see whether you need to change some habits.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.