Top Tips For Looking After Your Teeth

Woman cleaning her teeth in mirror

It’s National Smile Month, beginning May 16, and we have some top tips for looking after your teeth.

With dental appointments rarer than hens’ teeth in certain parts of the country, it’s more important than ever to focus on taking care of our teeth as best we can. 

Dental experts explain that as we age our teeth and gums require extra care to remain healthy and disease-free. Our teeth are protected by enamel, a hard, protective coating, but damage over time can cause it to gradually wear away. And, when this happens, the dentine underneath is exposed. Dentine has a naturally yellow colour so your teeth may also appear to lose whiteness, and become less stain-resistant. So this can make coffee, tea, and other high-coloured food and drinks more problematic. 

You may also start to notice some gum recession, exposing the base of the tooth. This makes it easier for plaque bacteria to build up, causing bleeding, swelling and potential soreness of the gums, which is known as gum disease. 

Looking After Your Teeth

That’s why it’s important to take proactive steps to look after your oral health. After all, your dental health has a wider part to play in your general health and social wellbeing!   

For instance, poor dental health can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and may increase your risk of heart disease by triggering inflammation elsewhere in the body. What’s more, gum disease and frequent infections in your mouth may also indicate that your blood sugar could be too high, which could be a sign of diabetes. 

To help you maintain a healthy smile, here Amanda Sheehan, Dental Hygienist and Clinical Support Specialist at TePe, has shared her top tips on how you can look after your teeth. 

Get The Basics Right  

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel and can heal early signs of tooth decay. Remember to also clean between your teeth once a day. 
  • Teeth brushing alone only cleans up to 60% of your tooth surfaces, and most dental disease starts between your teeth, so it’s important to clean the remaining 40% that the toothbrush misses. 
  • To clean these spaces, find an interdental cleaning tool that works for you. Use dental floss if you have tight spaces between your teeth, or little interdental brushes (such as TePe) if the gaps in your teeth are wider. 
  • Plaque is a sticky film that constantly grows on your teeth. This film harbours bacteria, that produce acids after you eat or drink. These acids can destroy teeth. Frequent snacking between meals will not give your teeth the chance to recover from the acid attacks. Let your teeth rest and choose water when thirsty instead of sweet or acidic drinks. 
  • Always go to bed with clean teeth – the production of saliva is reduced at night, which lowers the saliva’s capacity to protect your teeth. 
  • If you suffer from a dry mouth, the risk of decay is higher. Your oral hygiene is even more important as there is less saliva to help clean the teeth and neutralise the acid.  

Cut Down On Sugar 

To reduce plaque build-up on your teeth, limit your intake of sugary snacks and treats. Instead, opt for nutritious foods, such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or vegetables. 

Chewing raw vegetables will help your saliva to neutralise plaque-causing acids. Fruit is great for your overall health, but too much can cause problems in the form of acid erosion. Remember, always wait half an hour before brushing your teeth after anything acidic to maintain strong enamel.  

Choose A Toothpaste With Fluoride  

Fluoride in toothpaste helps to protect your teeth by strengthening the tooth enamel. Adults should use toothpastes that contain between 1350 -1500 PPM. Although tooth whitening toothpastes have their place, some can be abrasive. Always consult your dental professional about the best tooth stain removal process for your specific requirements. 

Caffeine In Moderation 

A cup of coffee may well be your friend in the morning when you are getting warmed up for the day, but the tannins present in many high caffeine drinks can cause staining, bad breath and dehydration so try to limit yourself to one to minimise the impact it can have on your teeth. Try to follow your coffee with a glass of water.  

Do You Have The Right Product? 

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Traditional toothbrushes work well, but for some electric toothbrushes can be more effective. For instance, electric toothbrushes can be especially helpful for people affected by arthritis. You should also use an interdental toothbrush or floss, which should be used once a day.  

Use A Tongue Cleaner 

If you are worried about bad breath, use a tongue cleaner to help remove plaque from the surface of your tongue, which can build up and cause bad breath. If it is your first time, avoid placing the tongue cleaner too far back. Begin cleaning from the tongue tip, slowly moving to the back of the tongue to ensure you don’t trigger your gag reflex. Ask your dental hygienist to show you an effective comfortable technique if you are unsure. 

Find more tips and advice from TePe.

More health advice from the “Friend”.


Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.