Our mouths are a vital part of our lives.
We use our mouths to:
- eat and drink
- express how we are feeling.
Looking after our smile is important to ensure we are healthy and happy.
Tooth decay happens over time.
Inside our mouths we have bacteria which mix with food that creates a sticky layer on our teeth called plaque.
Tooth decay happens when the plaque bacteria create acid which breaks down the hard outer surface of our teeth.
The good news is that tooth decay is preventable and there are lots of easy ways to look after our smiles.
Find out more about tooth decay on the NHS website.
Visit the dentist
You can maintain good oral health by visiting the dentist.
It’s free for children aged under 18, or for children in full time education aged under 19.
Pregnant women and mothers with a child 12 months or younger receive free NHS dental treatment.
If you have not had a dental check in the last 6 months, make an appointment with your local practice. Go to the dentist regularly or as often as your dentist advises.
Register with a dentist
Anyone can access NHS dental care even if they have no fixed address.
Dentists do not need to get proof of identity, proof of address or proof of immigration status.
Dental practices cannot turn down an applicant for NHS treatment on the grounds of dental condition or any protected characteristics.
Find out about NHS dental charges.
If you're on a low income
You may be able to get help with NHS dental costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
Tips for looking after your teeth
Top tips for looking after your teeth:
- try to have less food and drinks with added sugar, and avoid sugary food and drink between meals and before bed. Learn more about lowering your sugar intake and sugar swaps
- clean your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, once before bed and usually once in the morning. Help children under 8 brush their teeth
- always spit out your toothpaste. Do not rinse after brushing as this washes away the fluoride you need to help protect your teeth
- use the right type of toothbrush. The best type of toothbrush is one with a small head and medium-textured bristles and can be manual or electric
- replace your toothbrush or brush head at least every 3 months or when the bristles are worn or frayed. Damaged bristles will not keep your teeth and gums fully clean
- clean between your teeth using interdental brushes or dental floss if you're an adult.
If you’d like to learn how to reduce the sugar in your family’s diet, find out about our family cookery classes.
Mouth cancer: early detection saves lives
Mouth cancer kills more people each year than cervical and testicular cancer combined. Being alert to the signs of mouth cancer is just as important.
Treating mouth cancer successfully depends on early diagnosis.
If mouth cancer is caught early, the chances of a full recovery are 9 out of 10.
Check now for the following symptoms:
- mouth ulcers which do not heal in 3 weeks
- red and white patches anywhere in the mouth or on the tongue
- unusual lumps or swellings anywhere in the mouth or head and neck area
- changes in your voice, such as a husky voice or difficulties swallowing which persists for more than 6 weeks.
You can check for these symptoms at home. Feel your neck and face for lumps and swellings.
If you notice anything that you’re concerned about, book an appointment with your dentist or GP.
Find out more about mouth cancer on the NHS website.
Local help and advice
If you do not have a regular dentist, you can find a dentist on the NHS website. You can phone them for advice or a
For healthy eating and recipe ideas follow our Tri for You Facebook page.
Emergency dental care
Visit the Medway Community Healthcare website or call 01634 890 300 for information about their emergency dental service called DentaLine.
DentaLine is for emergencies and urgent symptoms during evenings, weekends or bank holidays.
National help and advice
You can look at NHS advice on how to take care of your children's teeth.
For general oral health advice visit the Oral Health Foundation’s website.