News & blogs Blogs and vlogs Five tips for a kiss worthy smile Show your mouth some love this Valentine’s Day with these top tips from our oral health experts. Beware of bad breath Bad breath (halitosis) is caused by the bacteria building up in your mouth, so sticking to regular brushing habits are especially important to fight it. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too, as bacteria is also likely to build up here. You can also help keep bad breath at bay by using daily mouthwashes and cleaning in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss. One of the keys to fresh breath is making sure your mouth is making enough salvia. Saliva stops the mouth from drying out – which is one of the main causes of bad breath. Chewing sugar free gum in between meals helps your mouth produce more salvia, keeping your breath smelling fresh. Persistent bad breath could be a sign of a more serious condition like gum disease, so if you are following a good oral health care routine and the odour does not improve then book a check-up with your dental team to be safe. Share a kiss – not a toothbrush The bacteria and viruses that causes colds, sore throats and even COVID-19, can spread from person to person through saliva, yet one in four of us are openly willing to share toothbrushes with other people. Bacteria can live on a toothbrush for anywhere between a few hours to several days which makes avoiding sharing your toothbrush, even with loved ones, really important. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, including last thing at night. Also aim to replace your toothbrush every three months, or as soon as the bristles become frayed. Use products containing fluoride Whether it is mouthwash or toothpaste, using products which contain fluoride will help prevent tooth decay and improve your overall oral health. In most cases the standard toothpaste from a supermarket will contain an adequate amount of fluoride, (between 1350-1500 parts per million for anyone over three years old) but if you are at an increased risk of tooth decay your dentist might recommend a high fluoride toothpaste. You can find out more about high fluoride toothpaste here. Brighten your smile safely Confidence is key, so if you think having a brighter smile will lift your confidence you might have considered tooth whitening at some point. Tooth whitening can only be safely and legally carried out by a dental professional. Do not be tempted to cut corners and visit a beautician or home whitening bought on the internet, which may contain a much higher concentrate of hydrogen peroxide. You could risk permanent damage to your teeth and gums. You should always talk to your dentist about which whitening options are best for you. Teeth whitening is considered a dental procedure, therefore only a qualified and registered dentist (or dental hygienist or clinical dental technician, on the prescription of a dentist), can legally carry out the treatment. There are a number of over-the-counter products you can use but as the legal limit for hydrogen peroxide in these products is 0.1%, this will have little or no long-term effect on your teeth. Have a look at our safe teeth whitening campaign page here for more information on tooth whitening. The dentist and hygienist are your friends Sticking to your regular check-ups with a dentist can help make sure your oral health is at its best all year round. You should visit your dentist and hygienist for a check-up, as often as they recommend. By doing so, they can also spot and treat any problems early, before they have a chance to develop into anything more serious. For further dental advice, please contact our Dental Helpline. You can call them for free advice on 01788 539780 Mon-Fri 9-5pm or email them using the online form here. Calls are charged at a standard network rate.