I have gone through childbirth, had operations, can take injection and the syphoning of my own blood, but I cannot stand going to the dentist.


As a youngster when I was trusted as a schoolgirl to go to the dentist appointment in Berkhampstead, after school, I would ring the doorbell and run away. I would go home with some excuse about no one answered the door.


“I did knock the door. Really I did.” I forgot to add I hid after that. After a few smacked bottoms I was in need of soft cushions to sit down. After due consideration of the pros and cons, I made the momentous decision to make myself ‘go to the dentist’. Well it had to be better than child cruelty as I saw it. It was embarrassing to see me sit down very slowly….


But time moved on and my next vivid memory of a visit to a dentist in North London was when I had a toddler who I had to take with me while I had a filling.


My little boy had a toy car and he was pushing the car to make the wheels revolve. I was more interested in what was happening in my mouth than want my son was doing. Filling over I turned to find a rip in the leather chair made by my son’s little car.


I paid for my filling but when I got the bill for the damage I was staggered and thought I would never go to the dentist again.


But you grow older and time moves on and I had to accept I should be looking after my teeth for however long they might last. By now I had good assortment of silver fillings, a gold tooth and cobalt top partial plate that cost me a bomb.
As luck would have it I now have the nicest possible dentist, Vanessa, from South African you could wish for. She is a lovely lady who is caring, smiling and stops if she thinks she is hurting you. I really believe it hurts her more than it does me at time.


But in spite of all that I have been putting off a needed visit. I have lost a crown and have a broken tooth and need a scaling However you look at it this is, it is not going to be a ‘ride in the park’ as they say. I am running out of excuses but it could be any time soon.


As I have been thinking about teeth I decided to find some interesting reading to put my mind at rest.




Looking at the NHS Choices on dentistry they recommend cleaning your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. You need at least two minutes cleaning before breakfast and last thing at night before you go to bed. Daily flossing will also help with tooth care.

(Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts, depending on which area of the UK you live in. It is also found in certain foods, including tea and fish. Fluoride’s main benefit is in helping reduce the risk of tooth decay, which is why it is added to many brands of toothpaste and, in some areas, to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.)

Cleaning your teeth and flossing regularly will help to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Failure to brush properly can leave you with plaque that is a film of bacteria coating your teeth. Ignoring this leads to tooth decay and gum disease.


To avoid damaging your teeth after a meal full of sugar and carbohydrates you should wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. A pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste is enough. Fluoride helps to strengthen and protect teeth.

Make sure you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth.

After brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste but do not rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.


Children need to be helped or supervised brushing their teeth until they are at least seven years old.


NHS Brushing Choices suggests:

  • Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45-degree angle against the gum line. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all surfaces of every tooth (Got that!)


  • Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line (Doing that!)


  • Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth (Repeat, okay)


  • Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth (That’s different!)


  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the front part of the brush (Another tilt!)


  • Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria (That’s new)


  • Do not rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing as this washes the protective toothpaste away. Just spit out excess toothpaste (Good thinking)

It is important to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis because they wear out and become less effective in removing plaque. Most toothbrushes need to be replaced every two to three months.

If you are considering buying an electric toothbrush, studies have shown the most effective type is one in which the head has a rotating oscillation action – meaning the head spins one way and then the other. As with manual toothbrushes, you need to replace the head of your electric toothbrush every two to three months.

  • Never share your toothbrush, as this can spread infections.
  • Use a small toothbrush that can reach the back teeth, applying no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for adults
  • Do not brush too hard – this can damage gums
  • Limit your consumption of sugar and starchy foods

 Avoid sugary drinks and visit your dentist regularly


Floss the Boss 2.


For those who have not had the pleasure this is an important part of oral hygiene it removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gum line. These are areas a toothbrush cannot always reach. You should clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss.

Flossing is not just for dislodging food wedged between your teeth. Regular flossing may also reduce gum disease and bad breath by removing plaque that forms along the gum line.


  • Take 12-18 inches (30-45cm) of floss and grasp it so you have a couple of inches of floss taut between your hands.
  • Slip the floss between the teeth and into the area between your teeth and gums, as far as it will go.
  • Floss with 8-10 strokes, up and down between each tooth, to dislodge food and plaque.
  • Floss at least once a day. The most important time to floss is before going to bed.
  • You can floss before or after brushing.
  • Keep to a regular pattern when you floss your teeth, which should help make sure you do not miss any food particles

You can use interdental brushes instead of flossing, especially if your teeth are very close together and you find it difficult to manoeuvre dental floss through the gap.

Your dentist or hygienist can advise you on flossing techniques,

Avoid using toothpicks to remove trapped food from between your teeth, as you could make your gums bleed, which can lead to an infection.

If after that you need to see pictures – a video – look at

Tooth & floss.3.


If you are meeting someone special and looking forward to a good evening or maybe a long night, using dental mouthwash that contains fluoride, freshens the mouth and in passing can also help prevent tooth decay. However, this should not be used directly after tooth brushing. Choose a separate time to use mouthwash, a SPECIAL time. Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.

(I wonder if there are any health warnings if a couple ignores the 30-minute rule.)


For most adults, a toothbrush with a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short, round-end bristles are fine. Medium or soft bristles are best for most people. Use an electric brush with an oscillating or rotating head. If in doubt, ask your dentist.



It is important to use toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride. Check the packaging to find out how much fluoride each brand contains.


  • Children aged up to 3: use a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm (parts per million) fluoride.
  • Children aged 3-6: use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride.
  • Adults: use toothpaste that contains at least 1,350ppm fluoride.

Your dentist may prescribe toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride if you need it.


It is fine for babies and children to use the family toothpaste rather than a special children’s toothpaste, provided it contains the right concentration of fluoride. Don’t let children lick or eat toothpaste from the tube.



Try to cut down on sugary snacks or drinks. Each time you eat sugar, the bacteria in your mouth react by producing acid. This acid will attack the enamel on your teeth and cause dental decay.

By eating sugary treats at mealtimes rather than snacking during the day, you can reduce the amount of time your teeth are under attack.

It also helps to chew sugar-free gum for 10 to 20 minutes after your meal. Chewing produces saliva, which neutralises the acidity produced by the bacteria and helps to restore the natural balance of chemicals in your mouth


Most of us know we are what we eat and albeit you enjoy your food there is a warning about fermented carbohydrates if you have eaten lots of food and drink that matches this description. This is especially important if you have had fruit, fizzy drinks, wine or any other food that contains acid because tooth enamel is softened by the acid and can be worn away by brushing.


This includes:

  • fizzy drinks
  • wine
  • coffee and tea with sugar added
  • chocolate
  • sweets
  • cakes
  • crisps
  • biscuits
  • white bread

Healthier alternatives for snacks and drinks include:

  • cheese
  • fruit and vegetables
  • sugar-free gum
  • unsweetened tea, coffee

You should not avoid carbohydrates altogether, as they are an important part of a balanced diet. But try and choose the type of carbohydrates known as unrefined carbohydrates, as bacteria finds it harder to break these down into acid.

Good sources of unrefined carbohydrates include:

  • wholemeal or brown bread
  • pasta
  • rice
  • potatoes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • eggs

This includes:

  • fizzy drinks
  • coffee and tea with sugar added
  • chocolate
  • sweets
  • cakes
  • crisps
  • biscuits
  • white bread

Healthier alternatives for snacks and drinks include:

  • cheese
  • fruit and vegetables
  • sugar-free gum
  • unsweetened tea, coffee

Take a seat.5.

Are you sitting comfortably – well we will begin. I must look up that dentist’s telephone number.   Back soon. Jeanne


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