Taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums with good oral and dental hygiene can help to prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

Oral health is essential to general health and quality of life. It is a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing (World Health Organisation, 2017).

Poor oral health in childhood has a significant impact on children and families, with tooth decay being the most common reason for 6 to 10 year olds being admitted to hospital to have teeth removed.

Taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums with good oral and dental hygiene can help to prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

  • brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion each day with fluoride toothpaste. Spit the toothpaste out but don't rinse. If you rinse, the fluoride won't work as well
  • floss or use an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque
  • cut down on sugar, eat well, don't smoke, limit alcohol - it's good for your whole body, including your teeth, gums and mouth
  • brush baby teeth as soon as they come through, with a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a baby toothbrush. Here are some tips on how to look after baby teeth, including the importance of avoiding sweetened foods and drinks
  • children don't need to use children's special toothpaste. Children of all ages can use family toothpaste, as long as it contains 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride
  • have regular dental check-ups - detecting problems early means they are easier to treat

For more information on looking after you and your families' teeth view the dental health page on the NHS live well site.

Finding a dentist

Information is available on the how to find an NHS dentist page on the NHS website

If after contacting several dental practices you still can't find a dentist accepting NHS patients, you should call NHS England on 0300 311 2233

Local services and support

The Oral Health Promotion Team sits within the community and children’s directorate of Harrogate and district NHS foundation trust. The team are commissioned to deliver oral health promotion throughout Hull, North Yorkshire, Sunderland and York and provide training for professionals in health, education and care provision. The team provide:

  • evidenced-based supervised toothbrushing programme for selected early years settings in Hull, North Yorkshire, Sunderland and York. The programme is also offered to all special schools.
  • this is an initiative aimed at reducing the prevalence of tooth decay by increasing exposure to fluoride for children
  • training programme – provides designated training for health professionals and staff working with children and babies and other designated staff groups.

The Oral Health Promotion Team can be contacted on hdft.oralhealth@nhs.net.

Other useful sources of information