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n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co

Baby Teeth are Important Baby teeth are important because they:

• allow the child to chew a wide range of foods and make food easier to digest • help make speech possible. Without teeth some words and sounds are very difficult to form

• hold a space open for the adult teeth to grow into. If the baby teeth are lost too early, the adult teeth may come through in the wrong position. If this happens the child may need orthodontic treatment (braces) later • allow your child to have a nice smile

Baby teeth start to appear at around 6 months and all 20 baby teeth will usually be through after 2½ years

When adult teeth begin to push their way through, they wear away the roots of the baby teeth until they become loose and fall out. Gradually, from about the age of 6, baby teeth will begin to be replaced by adult teeth. All the baby teeth are usually replaced by the age of 12. It is important to keep your child’s teeth clean by brushing with a small-headed toothbrush for two minutes twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste containing at least 100ppm (parts per million) of fluoride up to age 3, and at least 1350 ppm when they are over 3 years old. You should supervise your child’s tooth brushing until they are at least 7 years old.

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co Bad Breath

To check if you have bad breath, just lick the inside of your wrist and sniff. If the smell is bad, you can be pretty sure that your breath is too.

The most usual causes of bad breath are:

Some medical conditions cause bad breath:

• bacteria on your teeth • food caught between your teeth • bacteria on your tongue • strong-smelling foods like garlic, coffee and onions • smoking • gum disease and tooth decay

• dry mouth (xerostomia), which can also be caused by some medicines • infections in your throat, nose or lungs • diabetes • liver or kidney problems

Preventing bad breath:

• Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. • Don’t forget to clean your tongue as well. • Clean between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss. • Use a mouthwash with an antibacterial agent. • Chew sugar-free gum – it helps your mouth make saliva and stops your mouth drying out.

Talk to your dentist or hygienist. They can advise you on how best to treat the problem. They will also show you the best way to clean your teeth and gums.

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Cleaning Between Your Teeth

When flossing or using interdental brushes, keep to a regular pattern and remember not to miss any teeth. It helps to look in the mirror. Don’t forget the backs of your last teeth. It is also very important to clean around the edges of any crowns, bridges or implants. You should clean between your teeth at least once a day.


Interdental Brushing


1 Take about 18 inches of floss, and wind some around one finger of each hand.


2 Hold the floss between your thumb and forefingers, with about an inch of floss between them, leaving no slack. Use a gentle ‘rocking’ motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Do not jerk or snap the floss into the gums. 3 When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth until you feel resistance.


Hold the floss against the tooth. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on the other side of the gap, along the side of the next tooth.

Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and forefinger. Gently place the brush through the gap between your teeth. Do not force the brush head through the gap. If the brush splays or bends then it is too big - a smaller brush head will be needed. Interdental brushes come in various sizes. It may be helpful to ask your dentist or hygienist to show you the correct sizes for your mouth.

Your Dental Examination

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co

Your dentist will:

• look at your neck and face • feel underneath your jaw

• examine the inside of your mouth, and check your tongue, cheeks, lips, the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat

• check that your teeth have no signs of decay, erosion or damage and that any work you have had done – such as fillings or crowns − is sound • examine you for signs of inflammation or gum disease • compare your mouth to the last check-up • take any x-rays needed

• explain any treatment that you need, along with the choices that you have and what the cost will be

A dental examination will be able to show you and your dentist how healthy your teeth and gums are

Your dentist will also ask you about your general health and any medicines you are taking. Lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking can affect the health of your mouth. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

• Regular visits will help your dentist to pick up problems early, so they can be treated before the situation becomes more complicated. • Prevention is always better than cure. Your dentist will be able to show you how to care for your teeth and gums at home, to prevent problems before they start.

Denture Cleaning

n o i at rg d n h.o u o alt F h lhe t l a nta e H .de l ta ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co

• Clean your dentures thoroughly at least twice a day.

• Always clean your dentures with cold water, over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them − they could break.

• Brush your dentures to remove any bits of food and dental plaque. Use a denture brush or toothbrush and a denture cleaning paste. • Soaking your dentures in an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help to remove stubborn stains. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. • After soaking, brush your dentures again before putting them back in your mouth.

It is important to keep your dentures as clean as possible to prevent inflamed gums, bad breath, and infections

There are some special dentures that are metal or have clasps. You need to take particular care with these to avoid damaging them. Your dentist will be able to help you with advice on how to look after these. Most dentists recommend taking your dentures out at night to give your mouth a rest. If you do, it is important to leave them in water so that they do not crack or warp. It is important to still visit your dentist regularly even if you don’t have your natural teeth. Dentists also check the soft parts of your mouth, including your tongue, lips and cheeks, so they can spot any infections or mouth conditions as early as possible. Your dentist will tell you how often you should visit.

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co Gum Disease

There are two main types of gum disease: ‘gingivitis’ and ‘periodontal disease’

Gingivitis is when the gums around your teeth become very red and swollen, and they may bleed when you brush them.

Visit your dentist for regular check-ups. You may also need to have x-rays.

As the disease continues, it turns into periodontal disease and affects the structures supporting the teeth in the jaw. Eventually the teeth become loose.

Your dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth thoroughly to remove any hardened plaque or ‘scale’. You’ll also be shown how to clean your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.

If you have gum disease, there may be blood on your toothbrush when you clean your teeth. Your gums may bleed when you are eating and you may have a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also smell bad. To prevent gum disease you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. Brush your teeth twice a day, morning and night, for two minutes. Clean in between them with ‘interdental’ brushes or dental floss.

Periodontal disease is never cured, but you can stop it getting any worse by keeping up the homecare routine you have been taught.

Knocked Out Teeth

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co Teeth may be knocked out because of a blow to the mouth, an accident or through playing a contact sport

What should you do if this happens? • Don’t panic.

• If the tooth is very dirty, rinse it with milk and wipe it with a clean cloth. Avoid touching the root. Do not use disinfectant or let it dry out.

• If the tooth is unbroken, try to put it back in the socket as soon as possible – ideally within 30 minutes. Hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, push it back into the socket and bite on a clean handkerchief for 15 to 20 minutes.

• If the tooth is broken or part of it is missing, do not try to put it back in the socket. • If the tooth cannot be put back into the socket, keep it in your cheek until you can get emergency dental treatment. If this is not possible, keep it in some milk.

• Get emergency dental treatment as soon as possible. Either call your dentist, NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or phone 111.

Wear a custom-made mouthguard made by your dentist when playing contact sports. This will avoid your getting a tooth knocked out and will protect your teeth and jaws.

Mouth Cancer Examination

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co A mouth cancer examination is quick and painless – it only takes a few minutes

Here is what to expect:

1 If you have dentures – full or partial – you will be asked to take them out.

6 They will look at the roof and floor of your mouth, and the back of your throat.

2 Your dentist will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth for anything out of the ordinary.

7 They will then look at and feel the inside of your lips and cheeks to check for other signs such as red or white patches.

3 Using both hands, they will feel the area under your jaw, and the side of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.

4 Next, your dentist will ask you to stick out your tongue to check for swellings, and an unusual colour or texture. 5 They will then gently pull your tongue to first one side, then the other, to check the sides, base and underside of your tongue.

8 Finally, your dentist will put a finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, gently press down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.

If your dentist does notice anything unusual or unexpected during this examination, they may refer you to a specialist for more tests.

Root canal treatment is needed when the blood supply or nerve of a tooth is infected. This can happen because of decay or after an injury, and often leads to a dental abscess.

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht Š s i it rig r B py Co Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment does not hurt. Usually you will have a local anaesthetic and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. Root canal treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.

If root canal treatment is not done, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.

After root canal treatment the tooth will be dead and may be more brittle. You may need to have the tooth restored with a crown to give it extra support and strength.

Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure. There may be some tenderness afterwards but this should At the first appointment, your dentist will clean the root gradually get less over time. You should look after any rootcanal (the space in the centre of the tooth) and shape it ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth treated teeth just the same as any other tooth. is left to settle. The tooth is checked at a later visit and, when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.

Infected tooth & abscess

Tooth cleaned & shaped

Root filling replaced

Permanent filling or crown replaced

n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H d l . a t ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co Don’t Sip & Snack All Day

Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while

If this happens too often, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself. Over time, you start to lose the enamel of your teeth.

To help prevent this you can:

• Limit acidic products and fizzy drinks to mealtimes to reduce the number of acid attacks on your teeth.

• Drinks should be drunk quickly with out holding in or ‘swishing’ around your mouth. Or use a straw to help drinks go to the back of your mouth and avoid long contact with your teeth. • Finish a meal with cheese or milk as this will help neutralise the acid.

• Chew sugar-free gum after eating to help produce more saliva to help can cancel out the acids which form in your mouth after eating.

• Wait for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic before brushing your teeth. This gives your teeth time to build up their mineral content again.

n o i at rg d n h.o u o alt F h lhe t l a nta e H .de l ta ww n e w D h ht © s i it rig r B py Co Smart Brushing

Brushing removes plaque and food particles from all the surfaces of your teeth

• Place the head of your • Brush the outer surfaces • Use the same method on toothbrush against your of each tooth, upper the inside surfaces of all teeth, then tilt the bristle and lower, keeping the your teeth. tips to a 45 degree angle bristles angled against the • Brush the biting surfaces against the gumline. Move gumline. of the teeth. the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.

• To clean the inside • Brushing your tongue will surfaces of the front teeth, help freshen your breath tilt the brush vertically and will clean your mouth and make several small by removing bacteria. circular strokes with the front part of the brush.

Tooth Whitening

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Many people want to have whiter teeth. Your teeth can become darker over time, and they may also be stained on the surface by food and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant, and by smoking.

What types of whitening are there?

You can buy ’over-the-counter’ whitening kits to use yourself. Power whitening is carried out in around an hour in the dental surgery. But the ones sold legally in the UK do not have enough of the active bleaching ingredient to be effective. You may get some slight sensitivity in your teeth for a short time after whitening treatment. The only person who can whiten your teeth legally for you is a dentist. Because it is a cosmetic treatment, you can only There are two types of whitening treatments − ‘tray’ whitening, and ‘laser’ or ‘power’ whitening.

get whitening done privately. Always discuss costs with your dentist before starting treatment.

With tray whitening your dentist will make a special tray to fit over your teeth, rather like a gumshield. You put bleaching gel in the tray and wear this for a short time, once or twice a day. You do this for one to four weeks depending on the product.

Whitening toothpastes will not lighten your teeth but they may be good at removing staining.


Whitening only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of ‘false’ teeth such as dentures, crowns and veneers.


n o i t g a d .or n u lth o F ea h lt talh a e en H al w.d t n ww e D © h t s i h t i rig r B py Co The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity which is dedicated to improving the nation’s oral health. Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste

Cut down how often you have sugary foods and drinks

Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend

The Dental Helpline is a confidential advice service provided by the British Dental Health Foundation. Qualified professionals are available to answer your questions and concerns from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Or you may email from our website at any time: British Dental Health Foundation, Smile House, 2 East Union Street, Rugby CV22 6AJ, UK Tel: 01788 546365 | © British Dental Health Foundation | Printed 08/2012 | To re-order contact 01788 539 793

Infobites Title

Taking bitesize information from our popular leaflet range, we now offer A6 postcard size information cards, each with their own specific topic. Approved by the Word Centre for Plain English and review dated on the reverse along with key oral health messages for your patients. 12 titles, in pads of 50, at a great price to help inform and educate patients.


50 pad of

Order Code Pack Size


Smart Brushing




Cleaning between your teeth




Don’t sip and snack all day




Your dental examination




Bad breath




Denture cleaning




Gum disease




Knocked out teeth




Importance of baby teeth




Oral cancer examination




Root canal treatment




Tooth whitening




Call TODAY to place your order 01788 539793 or visit Copyright © British Dental Health Foundation |

InfoBites sample pack  
InfoBites sample pack  

Sample pack to view of our InfoBites patient information cards. Educational resource For health professionals, to help with delivery of imp...