Updated 18 January 2018

Keep your smile healthy with dental care basics

It's never too late to brush up on your basic dental-care habits.

Here are some tips to ensure that your entire family has healthy gums, a sparkling smile and fresh breath every day:

It all starts with basic oral health care and hygiene

Basic dental care is simple: brush your teeth regularly (especially after meals, snacks, and before bed), floss every day, and use a mouthwash. Flossing at least once a day removes plaque that can damaged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.

Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride which helps protect against tooth decay and cavities.

You will also be rewarded if you eat healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables and calcium-rich dairy products, which will also contribute to an overall healthy smile and fresh breath. Excessive amounts of red wine, tobacco and sugary foods will stain your teeth and lead to bad breath.

Tongue cleaning is also important in having a healthy mouth and fresh breath.

Why basic oral health care and hygiene is so important

Basic oral hygiene is essential in preventing tooth decay.

By employing regular oral hygiene into your daily routine you will be helping prevent gum disease which can damage gum tissue and the bones that support teeth. Gum disease can lead to the loss of teeth in the long term.

By caring for your teeth and gums at home you can potentially shorten the time and money you spend at the dentist and gain a healthy mouth. By preventing tooth decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for fillings and other costly procedures such as bridge work, false teeth and much more.

Gingivitis and bad breath can be minimised through regular brushing and flossing as it rids the mouth of bacteria.

Are there ways to avoid dental problems?

Good nutrition combined with regular brushing and flossing are essential in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Avoid food that contains a lot of sugar – sugar feeds damage-causing plaque that grows on your teeth. Tobacco products can cause gum disease and oral cancer, so be sure to avoid them.

Cleaning your tongue is also good for your oral health, and tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved. Choose a toothbrush that offers a tongue cleaner or a soft-bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction.

At the start of each year, book appointments at your dentist for your entire family. Schedule them throughout the year and make sure you don't skip them. In addition to the above, it is recommended that you change your toothbrush every three months.

When should you take your child to see a dentist?

At the age of six months, you should take your child to your general practitioner who will be able to assess the likelihood of your little one having future dental complications. If the general practitioner thinks your child will have dental problems, it is advisable that you take your child to see a dentist before his or her first birthday, just after the primary teeth have begun to emerge. You should schedule appointments for your child every six months with your dentist.


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Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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