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Oral health: Key messages

There are several things we can all do to improve our oral health, including simple steps such as reducing our intake of food and drinks that contain added sugars, especially before bedtime.


Brushing your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay.  There's a range of toothpastes available, which contain different levels of fluoride (the amount is shown on the side of the tube and is measured in parts per million or ppm) and those containing 1350 to 1500ppm of fluoride are the most effective.  Your dentist may advise you to use higher strength toothpaste, if you or your child is at particular risk of tooth decay.

Fluoride guide

  • Children under three years old should brush twice a day using a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm fluoride

  • Children between three and six years old should brush at least twice a day using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, which contains more than 1000ppm fluoride

  • Adults should brush at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing 1350 to 1500ppm fluoride

It's important not to use a mouthwash at the same time as brushing, as it washes away the fluoride in the toothpaste, so use it at a different time instead, perhaps after eating.

Visiting the dentist

You should regularly visit your dentist for check ups, even if you have no teeth or are free from any apparent problems with your mouth or teeth (your dentist will advise how often you need a check up).  NHS dental treatment is free for children under 18 (or under 19 and in qualifying full time education) and pregnant women, including any treatment commenced before their child's first birthday.

Additional information

Take a look at the Talk Community Directory's looking after your teeth page, where you can also download a copy of the children's dental health leaflet in English, Lithuanian or Polish.


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