Teeth cleaning guide

If you have a dental problem you should, in the first instance always phone the dental practice that you normally attend.

If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help.

It’s important to know when and how often you should brush your teeth in order to keep them clean and healthy.

Remove plaque

Plaque is the layer that coats your teeth and gums. Brushing your teeth properly and regularly is the best way to remove this and stop plaque building up. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease.


  • brush your teeth at least twice a day (last thing at night or bedtime and at least one other occasion)
  • brush your teeth for 2 minutes at a time – use the timer on your phone, or keep an eye on your watch
  • brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste

Your dentist or hygienist will be able to advise you on your own individual brushing needs based on your own dental health.

The toothbrush

When it comes to finding the correct toothbrush for you it’s best to keep it simple.

Electric and manual toothbrushes are both equally effective at removing plaque from your mouth.

When buying a toothbrush most adults should be looking for one with:

  • a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short round end bristles
  • medium bristles

Speak with your dentist or hygienist if you need advice on what toothbrush matches your needs best.

It’s important to pick toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride for your needs.


To properly brush your teeth you should make short strokes gently over the teeth.


  • pay close attention to the gum line
  • ensure you reach any areas surrounding crowns, fillings or restorations and those hard to reach back teeth
  • try to split your mouth in to 4 sections and dedicate 30 seconds of your brushing time to each section.
  • brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces of each tooth in your mouth

Place your brush at a 45 degree angle against your gum line. Gently start to brush your teeth in short circular strokes away from the gum line.

Using short back and forth strokes, gently brush all the surfaces in your mouth.


Once you’ve finished brushing you can spit out any excess toothpaste. Do not to rinse your mouth out straight away. This will wash away any fluoride left over from your toothpaste, reducing benefit to your dental health.

Fluoride mouthwash

Fluoride mouthwash can be good for your oral health routine but there are a few things to consider when using it.

Don’t use it to rinse straight after brushing.

Instead you might want to use a fluoride mouthwash at midday, after lunch for example. Just remember not to eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash. However, if time allows it’s better just to give your teeth a brush using a fluoride toothpaste after your midday meal.

All mouthwash should be alcohol-free.

Dental floss

Dental floss can also be used before brushing so that any dislodged food can be brushed out of your mouth. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to show you how to floss effectively.

There are lots of different types of dental floss. It can be waxed or unwaxed. It might be angled to reach the back of your mouth and it can have different widths to suit different sized gaps in our teeth. Ask your dentist or hygienist which type of floss is the best for your teeth and needs.

Interdental brushes

Cleaning between your teeth is one of the most important parts of your oral hygiene routine. It can help to dislodge any leftover food from your teeth and remove any plaque forming along the gum line. This will reduce the risk of gum disease and bad breath.

Instead of flossing you can use interdental brushes to reach the areas in between your teeth. If you have larger gaps in between your teeth this can be especially useful. Do not use toothpicks in between your teeth as they’re too hard and cause damage to your gums.

Your dentist should always be happy to advise you on the best methods of teeth cleaning for you.

Last updated:
09 April 2024

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