Dental hygiene FAQs

Category: Healthier

We answer some common questions about how to help care for your teeth and gums.

Lady brushing teeth | Bupa

We answer some popular questions about dental care, from what toothbrush is best through to how to floss.

Which toothbrush is the best?

Whether you choose a manual toothbrush or an electric one, it's important to use one with a small head. This will help you reach the back teeth, in particular the areas between the tongue and lower back molars. Hard and stiff bristles can damage your teeth and gums, so buy one with soft bristles. One study[1] found that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque and bacteria, due to the rotating action of the head.

How often should you change your toothbrush?

When your toothbrush starts to look a little frayed (around three months after you buy it), it's time to get a new one. This will help you make sure your teeth are being cleaned properly, plus, bacteria can build up in and on the bristles.

How often should you brush your teeth?

The New Zealand Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Brush after breakfast and dinner (or before you go to bed).

How long do I need to brush my teeth for?

Spend at least two to three minutes brushing your teeth to ensure you've removed food and plaque build-up. To ensure you're brushing your teeth correctly, follow these five steps:

1. Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums.

2. Move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes.

3. Cover all areas of the teeth and gums, by dividing the upper and lower teeth separately into front, left and right areas. Brush each area with short, tooth-wide strokes.

4. Brush all the surfaces of all your teeth including the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces. Use the "toe" of the brush for the inner front tooth surfaces.

5. Don't forget to brush the top surface of your tongue.

How should I floss?

Flossing helps remove plaque from between your teeth and around the gum line. It should be done at least once a day. Follow these five flossing tips for healthy teeth and gums:

1. Use enough floss so you can hold the ends comfortably in your hands (about 45 cm). Wind the floss around both middle fingers and support it across your thumbs and index fingers

2. Insert the floss gently with a side-to- side motion. Hold your thumbs and index fingers closely together to guide the floss between each tooth.

3. Curve the floss into a C-shape around the tooth at the gum line. This will help clean the 'neck' of the tooth.

4. Scrape the floss up and down moving the floss away from the gum line. Use a clean part of the floss with each new tooth.

5. Remember to floss the back side of the last tooth.


Good dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If you have any other questions about caring for your teeth or gums speak to your dentist.



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