Oral hygiene

Our focus is very much on preventive dentistry – helping you to avoid problems by giving you sound advice on the best way to care for your teeth, as well as keeping a close eye on your teeth and gums through regular check-up examinations.

During your oral hygiene visit we will clean your teeth professionally, removing any plaque (a layer of bacteria which causes gum disease) and tartar (calculus). We will also remove stains on your teeth, as well as polishing them (helping them to look and feel fresh and clean), and will advise on the best way of caring for your teeth and gums.

You will also receive:

  • a demonstration of proper brushing and flossing techniques
  • a demonstration of proper cleaning techniques for your dentures
  • an assessment of how much fluoride you're getting through your diet and use of oral hygiene products

The dentist or hygienist will also ask about any health problems you have or medications you're taking. If you have diabetes, for example, you're at increased risk of gum disease. Any medication that contributes to dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay. If arthritis interferes with your ability to effectively brush your teeth, your dentist or hygienist will give you the necessary advice and instruction or recommend using a powered toothbrush.

It is important to get into a regular habit of good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene helps to prevent dental problems. Regular teeth brushing and cleaning between teeth helps to remove plaque and tartar, which are the main causes of gum disease and caries. Your oral hygiene routine should include using alcohol free fluoride mouthwashes, tongue cleaning, and eating a healthy diet, which includes limiting sugary drinks and foods.

Dentist can detect a build-up of plaque and remove tartar (calculus). Early or mild gingivitis can be detected and treated to prevent the more severe periodontitis.

In addition to the benefits to your teeth, good mouth hygiene may have even further benefits. There is some evidence to suggest that poor oral hygiene is associated with an increased risk of developing heart diseases such as:

  • Heart attack and angina
  • Other blood vessel-related problems (cardiovascular disease)

Gum disease (periodontal disease)

Gum disease means infection or inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth. Most cases of gum disease are plaque-related. Plaque contains many different types of bacteria and a build-up of some types of bacteria is associated with developing gum disease.

Depending on the severity, gum disease is generally divided into two types - gingivitis and periodontitis:

  • Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums.
  • Periodontitis occurs if gingivitis not treated and becomes worse and progresses to involve the tissue that joins the teeth to the gums.

Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. It is also a main cause of bad breath (halitosis). However, gum disease is often treatable.

Teeth brushing 

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use a soft-bristle brush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. The head of the brush should be small enough to get into all the areas of the mouth. Spend at least two minutes brushing, covering all areas (start with the inside then outside, and biting areas of each tooth). Pay particular attention to where the teeth meet the gum. Get a new toothbrush every 2-3 months.

Study shows that electric tooth brushes with a rotation-oscillation action (where the brush rapidly changes direction of rotation) remove plaque and debris better than manual brushes.

Cleaning between teeth

Clean between your teeth after brushing once a day, but ideally twice a day. This is to remove plaque from between teeth. The aim is:

  • To clean the sides of the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.
  • To clear the spaces between teeth (the interdental spaces) of debris.

The gums may bleed a little when you first begin to clean between your teeth. This should settle in a few days. If it persists then see a dentist, as regular bleeding may indicate gum disease.

Dental floss

Dental floss is commonly used to do this  start by cutting off about 40 cm. Wind the ends round your middle fingers of each hand. Then grab the floss between the thumbs and first finger to obtain a tight 3-4 cm section which you can pull between teeth. Gently scrape the floss against the sides of each tooth from the gum outwards. Use a fresh piece of floss each time.

Some people prefer floss tape, which slides between teeth more easily than normal floss. Also, some people use disposable plastic forks with a small length of floss between the two prongs. These may be easier to hold and manipulate.

Interdental brushes

Some studies suggest that small interdental brushes may do a better job than floss. An interdental brush, also called an interproximal brush is a small brush, typically disposable, used for cleaning between teeth and between the wire of dental braces and the teeth. Brushes are available in a range of widths and color coded

Antiseptic mouthwash

It is recommended to use antiseptic mouthwash each day to help prevent gum disease. In particular, for those who are unable to use a toothbrush, regular rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash will help to clean the teeth.

Tongue cleaning

Cleaning the tongue as part of daily oral hygiene is essential, since it removes the white/yellow bad-breath-generating coating of bacteria, decaying food particles, and dead cells from your tongue.

Chewing gum

Some people chew sugar-free gum after each meal. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva. Saliva helps to flush the mouth to help clear any debris and acid remaining from the meal.


If you smoke, you should aim to stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing gum disease.


If children need medicines, wherever possible use sugar-free medicines.