Date Revised:

As a carer you may struggle to find time to visit the dentist regularly, but you need to take the time do go as it will help keep your teeth healthy. There are also simple ways to help prevent tooth decay.

The person you care for should also visit their dentist regularly, and clean their teeth properly.  This may be something you need to help them with.

Find a dentist near you on NHS Choices. You could also speak to family and friends for their recommendations.

You may get help with health costs including NHS dental treatment.  In some cases your treatment might be free but it depends where you live, your age, and your income.

Make sure you brush your teeth properly

  • Brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes, brushing before bed time is the most important.
  • After you have cleaned your teeth spit the toothpaste out. Do not rinse out as this washes the fluoride in the toothpaste away and it needs to stay on the teeth for as long as possible to help protect the teeth.
  • Change brushes and brush heads every 2-3 months. 
  • Always use a fluoridated toothpaste. 
  • Avoid whitening toothpastes, as some can be abrasive and rough on the teeth. 

Reduce how much sugar you eat

Too much sugar can cause tooth decay:

  • Avoid fizzy drinks, even diet fizzy drinks will cause erosion and tooth wear. Milk and water are best. 
  • Don’t eat sugar should more than four times per day – remember to count sugars in tea and coffees!
  • Even some healthy foods and drinks contain a lot of sugars so always read the labels and only eat or drink them at mealtimes:  
    • fresh fruit juices (these are acidic and should only be drunk twice a day)
    • dried fruit
    • honey
    • cereals    
    • citrus fruits
    • fruit teas (not camomile)
    • alcopops, cider and white wine
    • some sports drinks (those containing acids)
    • pickle
    • chewable vitamin C tablets, aspirin and some iron preparations. 

Reduce the risk of mouth cancer

There are several way to reduce the risk of oral cancer: 

  • Stop smoking. 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption to recommended levels.
  • Maintain a healthy diet in line with eat well guidelines.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to check your mouth appears healthy.

See the Mouth Cancer Foundation for more information. 

Reduce the risk of gum disease

The early signs of gum disease are bleeding gums and bad breathe. In the later stages teeth can become loose and gums can recede. Make sure you brush properly and stop smoking. It is especially important that you take care of your gums if you are diabetic as you are more at risk of gum disease.

Want to find out more?

Visit the Oral Health Foundation for a wide range of information about dental health including whitening, dental abscesses, bad breathe and pregnancy.  

Thanks to Sarah Kaddour BDS MJDF at Health Education England for helping us write this page.

Next update due: June 2017