Caring for your teeth
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Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is very important. A thorough brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and regular checkups at your dentist will keep your teeth and gums in good health and reduce the risk of gum disease, tooth loss and infections.
Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. It's usually best to do this as soon as you get up before breakfast, and before you go to bed. You should avoid brushing straight after a meal or after drinking sweet or acidic drinks like fruit juice.
You can find more advice on brushing your teeth and keeping teeth and gums clean and healthy at the NHS website.
If you have problems with your hand coordination or grip, you can get specially adapted toothbrushes with handles that will help you. Some people also find electric toothbrushes helpful as they reduce the amount of hand movement needed.
If you have problems with your vision and find it difficult to see what you're doing when brushing your teeth, a good bathroom light and a magnifying mirror might be useful.
Whether you choose to see an NHS or private dentist, you should make an appointment for a checkup about every 18 months.
If you're in receipt of certain benefits, you may be able to get NHS dental treatment for free, and if you are on a low income you may be able to get some help with dentists' charges. Find out more about what you're entitled to at the NHS website.
These leaflets explains how to find an NHS dentist in your borough, what treatment you can expect and how much it will cost :
You can also find a list of local NHS dentists:
- using the Dentist Search on the NHS website.
You can then check what services they offer, and how other patients have rated them. Or you can look for dentists in your local Yellow Pages.
- looking at the Healthwatch website, which provides lists of dentist surgeries in your area (as well as information on many other health and social care support services).
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have produced a leaflet on what standards you can expect from your dentist.
If you find it difficult to get to the dentist, you can ask whether they are able to offer home visits, or if they are able to refer you to another dentist that offers this service. This means you can get your regular dental checkup in the comfort of your own home, though you may still need to attend the dental surgery for any treatments you need.
The Central London Community Healthcare Trust provide community and specialist dental services for people in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith & Fulham who cannot, for various reasons, receive dental care in an ordinary general dental practice. This can include some people with learning or physical disabilities and other special needs, people with dental phobias, elderly and housebound patients, and children with severe decay.
If you've lost some or all of your teeth and wear full or partial dentures, it's important to take care of these to keep them clean and in good condition.
You should clean your dentures as often as you would clean your natural teeth - brush them twice a day and use a denture soak to keep them feeling fresh. Make sure you clean all sides of the dentures, including the side that touches your gums. Your dentist will be able to tell you which cleaning products to use, and how to deal with any stubborn stains or discoloration.
You can get more advice on looking after your dentures, particularly if you are an older person, from the British Dental Health Foundation.
The NHS website has a wealth of information on dental health, how to find a dentist, and what charges you can expect for treatment from an NHS dentist.
Whether you’re a child, parent, carer or teacher, you can find out just how easy it is for children to have healthy teeth with Westminster’s Tale of Triumph over Terrible Teeth
If you have any concerns about your teeth, talk to your dentist or doctor who will be able to advise you.