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Dental healthcare is important for many reasons. The varying size and shape of the teeth allow them to do several different jobs. Not only do they enable us to chew food, they are also crucial to language and communication; they allow us to properly pronounce sounds and form words clearly. In terms of personal appearance, teeth are an important part of the structure of the face and they can be a key factor in non-verbal communication, through smiling and other facial expressions.

It makes sense to look after our teeth when they are such an important asset. Brushing the teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice each day is usually all that is needed to maintain dental health. Regular tooth brushing prevents the build-up of plaque – bacteria which coats the teeth – causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Dentists – such as orthodontics specialist Jonathan Alexander Abt – recommend brushing for at least two minutes so that every surface of each tooth is properly cleaned. It is most important to brush the teeth immediately before going to bed for the night and they should be brushed at least once more during the day. Choosing to brush with an electric or manual toothbrush is up to the individual as both are equally effective. However, some people find an electric toothbrush easier to use.

The type of toothbrush used is not as important as making sure that the teeth are adequately cleaned across each surface and for at least two minutes. For most adults a soft or medium bristled brush is sufficient to keep teeth clean. A compact arrangement of angled bristles which vary in height is best for the majority of people.

It is important to use toothpaste which has the right concentration of fluoride. Most adults should use a toothpaste with 1,350 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Children do not need to use a children’s toothpaste and even very young children can use the family toothpaste.  The amount of toothpaste used should be carefully monitored according to the age of the child; under threes should only have a smear of toothpaste and a pea-sized amount up to the age of six.

In addition to proper brushing, spitting rather than rinsing is better practice to help keep teeth healthy as this helps the fluoride to stay on teeth for longer. Interdental brushes and dental floss can help clean difficult to reach areas between teeth. It is important to have regular dental check-ups so that any issues can be monitored and managed. Maintaining good eating habits by minimising the intake of sugary food and drinks can also really help dental health. Keeping teeth clean and healthy can prevent most dental problems.