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Reminders for maintaining good oral health

The week of August 1-7 is Dental Health Week, and the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is encouraging all Australians to “keep your teeth and smile for life” with some oral health maintenance tips and reminders.

The annual campaign takes place each year and focuses on the importance of proactively caring for your teeth and gums. This year the ADA is reinforcing its key oral health messages to all Australians.


It’s essential to brush your teeth twice a day (morning and night) for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. According to the ADA, this recommended frequency is not only to keep your breath fresh and mouth feeling clean; “it is an important part of keeping your teeth, mouth and whole body healthy.”

If you’ve ever wondered about that ‘fuzzy’ feeling you get when your teeth haven’t been brushed, that’s plaque – a sticky layer of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. Brushing regularly is so important, the ADA says, because it removes the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Ultimately this helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

The way you brush matters too. Research has shown that on average, people remove only 27 per cent of dental plaque from the teeth with one minute of brushing, and only 42 per cent of dental plaque with two minutes of brushing. In other words, make sure you employ a good technique to reach and clean all tooth surfaces evenly. A useful guide is to brush the teeth in each corner of the mouth for approximately 30 seconds, the ADA advises.


In addition to brushing, good oral hygiene relies on cleaning between your teeth daily using string floss, flossettes, interdental brushes or a water flosser. “This should be a key part of daily oral health routines,” and “is just as important as tooth brushing,” says the ADA.

Why? Because cleaning between the teeth removes the food and bacteria that collect in these small spaces. 

Consider this fact shared by the ADA: 80 per cent of Australian adults report brushing their teeth two or more times per day, but only 25 per cent report that they floss or clean between their teeth every day. This means three out of four adults do not take care of their oral health in an optimal way.


Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit added sugar intake, the ADA urges, as “sugar is one of the biggest factors that can contribute to the development of tooth decay.” Processed foods with large quantities of added sugar often have no or limited nutritional value. 

To decrease the risk of tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults consume only six or less teaspoons (approximately 24 grams) of ‘free sugar’. (Free sugar includes those added to food and drink products during processing, manufacturing or at the time of consumption, as well as the sugar naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate.)

And remember, sugar is known by over 50 different names, making ‘hidden sugars’ very difficult to detect on food and drink labels.


Last but by no means least, the ADA suggests visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and preventive care. Use the Australian Dental Association Find-A-Dentist search tool – a comprehensive directory to locate ADA member dentists and clinics in your local area and by specialisation.

During Dental Health Week, if you have not had a recent visit to the dentist, take the opportunity to make an appointment. A visit to your dentist for face-to-face advice is the best way to get your questions answered.