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Oral Health

You use your mouth to eat, speak and laugh.  Keeping your teeth healthy not only means you are less likely to need dental treatment, but you will also have a nice smile and fresh breath which may help you feel more confident about yourself.  It is especially important for young children to have healthy teeth because they are learning to talk and socialise with other people.  Toothache is unpleasant for anyone, but is especially distressing for young children.  Preventing problems is definitely best for everyone.

The best thing you can do for teeth is to eat good healthy foods.  We all eat too much sugar which is very bad for teeth and your body.  Lots of foods contain sugar, so read the labels.  Drinking too many fizzy drinks can cause the enamel (outer layer) of your teeth to erode (dissolve away).  Fruit juice is also high in sugar, it is much better to eat the fruit.  Your teeth and body love water more than anything else, so drink lots of it instead. Go to the section on Healthy Eating for tips on how to do this.  Milk is good for your teeth and general health.  Milk has calcium which is good for your teeth and bones, as well as lots of other vitamins which will help you grow and stay healthy. 

Keep teeth and gums clean and strong by brushing them twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.  Children under 3 years old should only use a smear of toothpaste with at least 1000 ppm of fluoride. Everyone else should use toothpaste with at least 1,350 ppm of fluoride, but those aged between 3 and 6 years should not use more than a pea-sized amount.

Smoking stains your teeth and makes your breath smell bad.  It can make gum disease worse and you may be more likely to lose teeth.  Plus, smokers are seven to ten times more likely to suffer from mouth cancer than those have never smoked.  So, don’t even start smoking.  If you do smoke and would like help to quit, see the section on Smoking. 

Alcohol drinks such as alcopops, cider and wine can also cause tooth enamel to erode just like fizzy drinks.  Those who smoke and drink alcohol heavily are 38 times more likely to get mouth cancer than those who do not do either.  So, watch how much alcohol you drink. 

Visit a dentist regularly and not just when you are in pain or have a problem.  Your dentist will tell you how often you need to visit to keep your mouth and teeth looking and feeling healthy.  Your dentist will be able to help you prevent mouth and teeth problems or identify any problems early so you will need less treatment.  You can also ask your dentist about healthy eating, how to clean your teeth better, and if you smoke, where to get help to quit. 

Remember to exercise regularly and keep your mind healthy.  That will keep you happy and give you more opportunities to flash your healthy smile!

 Key messages:

  1. Eat a healthy diet, including limiting sugary foods and drinks
  2. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
  3. Do not smoke
  4. Drink alcohol in moderation
  5. Visit your dentist regularly to get advice and prevent problems.