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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Preventing teeth & gum problems

You can avoid many dental problems by looking after your teeth and gums. This includes everyone from babies, mum's to be through to older people. The top five tips for looking after your teeth are:

Toothbrushing and flossing

A regular routine of brushing and flossing is essential for good oral health.

Brushing helps to remove the sticky film of bacteria called plaque. You should brush your teeth every day, morning and night, with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Swish and spit but do not rinse.

You should clean between your teeth with dental floss or an interdental brush once a day.

Sugar and tooth decay

Bacteria in your mouth turn sugary foods and drinks into acid. This can damage your teeth.

The link below provides information about the types of food and drink that cause more damage to your teeth and suggests how to cut down on sugar.


Fluoride is a natural substance that helps protect our teeth by reducing tooth decay and erosion. It exists naturally in air, soil, fresh water, sea water, plants and in lots of food.

Fluoride works to help protect your teeth from decay by:

Fluoride toothpaste is an effective method of reducing dental decay.

Oral health products

The products you need to look after your oral health are:

You should change your toothbrush at least every three months.

Mouth wash is sometimes useful but try to avoid using it after brushing your teeth. Rinsing after brushing washes the fluoride toothpaste away from your teeth. Fluoride is important to strengthen and repair your teeth, regardless of your age.

There are a variety of oral health products available. You can buy these from your pharmacy, supermarket or dentist.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022.

Page reference: 954244

Review key: HILAT-75077