Oral hygiene 'dos and don'ts' explained by experts

Oral hygiene
Are we brushing our teeth frequently and for long enough? The British Dental Association has outlined the routine we should all get into. It's a habit that has been drummed into us from an early age, but the recent news flossing your teeth could be a waste of time has put the spotlight on oral hygiene.

When it comes to looking after our teeth, there are certain pieces of wisdom that we've incorporated into our routines. But in the wake of the news about flossing, when it comes to oral hygiene, how much does your average person know about what we should be doing - and which habits do we need to ditch?

For example, how many of us know how long we SHOULD brush or teeth for and how often? And what are we doing wrong?

Mirror Online spoke to the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, who kindly put together this definitive list of "dos and don'ts."


  • Brush for long enough – research indicates that people only brush for 45 seconds
  • Rinse the mouth after brushing – fluoride helps to prevent, control and even stop tooth decay – but rinsing the mouth out dilutes the concentration of fluoride, so SPIT, don’t rinse.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly
  • Brush too soon after eating – as enamel on teeth is softened after eating especially with sugary foods – it’s best to wait an hour before brushing which allows the tooth to harden up more.
  • Use a hard bristle toothbrush as this can damage the soft tissues in the gums.
  • Don't brush too hard – the bristles should lightly sweep the tooth.
  • Toothpaste being squeezed onto a brush
  • Is there such a thing as 'too much' toothpaste?


  • Brush for at least two minutes, twice daily, with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Brush last thing at night and at least on one other occasion
  • Use a small-headed toothbrush with medium bristles.
  • Put a pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush.
  • Brush along the gum line as well as the teeth themselves
  • Brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the outer, inner and chewing surfaces as well as the hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns or other restorations.

How often?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to brush teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque, limit the frequency, and the amount of sugary food and drinks consumed in your diet, and see the dentist regularly.
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