The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides no advice or warnings to pregnant women even though the landmark Mother-Offspring fluoride studies found that increasing fluoride exposure can lead to lower IQ in their offspring. Also, parents of young children are not warned that young children should not swallow their toothpaste. NHS only states, “Make sure children don’t lick or eat toothpaste from the tube.” Lastly, this advice is worrisome, “Children under the age of 3 should use just a smear of toothpaste.” We have learned from the Till et al. 2020 study that bottle-fed infants living in fluoridated communities have a greater risk for lower IQ because of increased fluoride exposure. Parents should be advised about the findings from these studies. (EC)
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about 2 minutes to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.
Tooth brushing stops plaque building up. Try to make sure you brush every surface of all your teeth.
Check out Brush DJ on our Digital Apps Library. The app plays 2 minutes of your music so you brush your teeth for the right amount of time.
When should I brush my teeth?
Brush your teeth for about 2 minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on 1 other occasion every day.
Your dentist or hygienist may give you more advice based on your own dental health and needs.
Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?
It doesn’t matter whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush.
They’re both equally good, as long as you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth and you use fluoride toothpaste.
But some people find it easier to clean their teeth thoroughly with an electric toothbrush.
What should I look for in a toothbrush?
For most adults, a toothbrush with a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short round-end bristles is fine. Medium or soft bristles are best for most people.
If you’re using an electric brush, one with an oscillating or rotating head may work better than a manual toothbrush.
But making sure you thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice a day is more important than the type of brush you use. If in doubt, ask your dentist.
What type of toothpaste should I use?
It’s important to use a toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride.
Check the packaging to find out how much fluoride each brand contains.
- Adults should use a toothpaste that contains at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.
- Children don’t need to use special children’s toothpaste. Children of all ages can use family toothpaste, as long as it contains 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride. Children aged 6 and under who don’t have tooth decay can use a lower strength children’s toothpaste, but make sure it contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride.
- Children under the age of 3 should use just a smear of toothpaste. Children aged 3 to 6 years should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste. Make sure children don’t lick or eat toothpaste from the tube.
Your dentist may advise you or your child to use a toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride, if you need it.
How to brush your teeth
Make sure you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth, which should take about 2 minutes.
Remember to brush the inside surfaces, outside surfaces and the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
How to help children brush their teeth
Children need to be helped or supervised brushing their teeth until they’re at least 7 years old.
Don’t rinse with water straight after toothbrushing
After brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste.
Don’t rinse your mouth immediately after brushing, as it’ll wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste.
This dilutes it and reduces its preventative effects.
Should I use mouthwash?
Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, but don’t use mouthwash (even a fluoride one) straight after brushing your teeth or it’ll wash away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste left on your teeth.
Choose a different time to use mouthwash, such as after lunch.
Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.
How to use dental floss
Flossing isn’t just for dislodging food wedged between your teeth.
It’s best to floss before brushing your teeth.
- Take 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45cm) of floss or dental tape and grasp it so you have a couple of inches of floss taut between your hands.
- Slip the floss or dental tape between the teeth and into the area between your teeth and gums, as far as it’ll go.
- Floss with 8 to 10 strokes, up and down between each tooth, to dislodge food and plaque.
Read about why it’s important to floss.
How to use interdental brushes
You can use interdental brushes or single-tufted brushes instead of flossing, especially if there are gaps between your teeth.
The brush should fit snugly between the teeth.
Never use toothpicks to remove trapped food from between your teeth as you may damage your gums, which could lead to an infection.
Your dentist or hygienist can advise you on the best way to use interdental cleaning for your teeth.
Read more about interdental brushes.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018
Next review due: 29 August 2021