At the frontline of healthcare, pharmacists and pharmacies have a substantial role to play in improving your oral health.

Pharmacists are a good source of information and should be able to provide you with advice about caring for your oral health, by recommending which products may be more effective for your needs.

Most pharmacies will stock a wide range of fluoride toothpastes for a variety of ages, mouthwashes, interdental brushes, floss and sugar-free chewing gum containing Xylitol.

Take advantage of their knowledge and the high quality products they will provide. Pharmacies will be able to guide you in the right direction so that you are able to keep good oral hygiene. 

When you are looking at which oral health products to buy in a pharmacy, look out for the Oral Health Foundation’s ‘Approved' symbol on packaging. This shows you the product has been independently checked by our expert panel, and the marketing claims being made for the product have been independently verified by our academics.

Encouraging dental check-ups

Many people visiting a pharmacy are looking for pain relief and medication to rid themselves of toothache, mouth ulcers and other areas of discomfort in the mouth and jaw.

If this is the case for you, make sure you speak with the pharmacist first. By talking with them about your problem, the pharmacist will be able to gauge how persistent the problem is, how serious it could be and whether you might need to attend a dental practice.

The pharmacist should explain to you that pain relief is not a treatment and encourage you to make an appointment with your dentist.

If you have gone to a pharmacy because you are anxious or afraid of the dentist and are looking for alternative cure, this is completely understandable and you are not alone.

The pharmacist should be able to put you at ease and make you feel more comfortable about the idea of a dental visit. Dentistry has moved on a lot in recent years to the point where all dental treatment is practically pain-free. Dental teams also have ways to relax and treat those patients who are more nervous.

Diet and oral health

Diet is highly important for both your general health and the health of your mouth. A pharmacist should also be able to give you advice about how foods and drinks can affect your teeth.

Large amounts and frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks is the biggest cause of tooth decay. Acidic foods and drinks can also cause dental erosion. Cutting down on sugary foods and drinks is one of the Oral Health Foundation’s key messages.

The pharmacist has a vital role to support the education being given in the dental practice by reinforcing healthy eating messages, with a reduction in and frequency of, sugar consumption. This goes alongside providing and recommending a range of oral health products such as fluoride toothpastes, toothbrushes, interdental brushes and mouthwashes, to help you along the way.

Pharmacists can also help you by suggesting sugar free medicines. Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay and can unknowingly be found in many liquid forms of medication, often used by children. As sugar is not a necessary or active ingredient for medication, we suggest that you ask your pharmacist for any sugar free alternatives.  

Liquid medication that does not contain fructose, glucose, or sucrose are described as ‘sugar free’. Those containing hydrogenated glucose syrup, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, or xylitol are also marked ‘sugar free’ since there is evidence they do not cause dental decay.

Mouth ulcers

Our research shows that one in six people are likely to visit a pharmacist first to seek help about oral health issues, most notably uncomfortable, and often painful, mouth ulcers.

Much of the time these will be simple ulcers and will pass within a few weeks, but there have been cases where customers have sought gels and creams for long lasting mouth ulcers that are potentially far more serious.

It is important that you explain to the pharmacist how long you have had the mouth ulcer before buying any cream or gels to treat it. If you have had it three weeks or longer, the pharmacist may suggest you see a dentist.

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