Here is some advice and answers to the most frequently asked questions that we receive here at Rush Dental Surgery.

Dental Decay

Dental decay happens when the enamel and dentine of a tooth become softened by acid attack, producing a cavity (hole). Dental decay is caused by plaque acids that gradually dissolve away the enamel and dentine of the tooth to produce a cavity. Dental decay is the same as tooth decay and is also known as ‘dental caries’. Decay damages your teeth and may lead to the tooth needing to be filled or even extracted.

Decay happens when sugars in food and drinks react with the bacteria in plaque, forming acids. Every time you eat or drink anything containing sugars, the bacteria reacts with it to form acid. These acids attack the teeth and start to dissolve the enamel. The attacks can last for an hour after eating or drinking, before the natural salts in your saliva cause the enamel to ‘remineralise’ and harden again. It’s not just sugars that are harmful: other types of carbohydrate foods and drinks react with plaque and form acid. (These are the ‘fermentable’ carbohydrates such as the ‘hidden sugars’ that can be added to processed food, natural sugars like those found in fruit, and cooked starches.) Snacking on sugary or acidic foods and drinks can increase the risk of decay, as the teeth come under constant attack and do not have time to recover. It is therefore important not to keep snacking on sugary foods or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day.

In the early stages of dental decay there are no symptoms, but your dentist may be able to spot an early cavity when they examine or x-ray your teeth. This is why you should visit your dentist regularly, as small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay.

Once the cavity has reached the dentine your tooth may become sensitive, particularly with sweet foods and drinks, and acidic or hot foods. As the decay gets near the dental pulp you may suffer from toothache. If the toothache is brought on by hot or sweet foods this may last for only a few seconds. As the decay gets closer to the dental pulp the pain may last longer and you may need to take painkillers – paracetamol or ibuprofen – to control the pain. You must visit your dentist immediately as the tooth is dying and you may develop a dental abscess if it is not treated.

Toothache is a sign that you should visit a dentist immediately, as it is a warning that something is wrong. If you don’t do anything, this will usually make matters worse, and you may lose a tooth that could otherwise have been saved. If the decay is not too serious, the dentist will remove all the decay and restore the tooth with a filling. Sometimes the nerve in the middle of the tooth can be damaged. If so the dentist will need to carry out root canal treatment by removing the nerve and then restoring the tooth with a filling or a crown. If the tooth is so badly decayed that it cannot be restored, the only option may be to extract the tooth.

Bad Breath Treatment

Bad breath, morning breath, breath odour or halitosis are all terms used to describe a noticeably unpleasant odour exhaled on the breath. Halitosis is not a problem by itself, but it can cause concerns in our interpersonal relationships.

We are all familiar with how the consumption of certain foods such as garlic and onions can affect our breath. This occurs because these foods are absorbed into our bloodstream, where they are transferred to our lungs and exhaled. Fortunately, bad breath caused by the foods we eat is only temporary.

Common Causes of Bad Breath

The truth is, most breath odour comes from food particles trapped in our mouths. When food remains in the mouth, it becomes a breeding ground for the bacteria that can cause bad breath. Other causes can include poor oral health, improper cleaning of dentures, periodontal disease as well as smoking & tobacco products. Bad breath can also be sign of an underlying medical condition of the stomach, lungs and bloodstream.

Another little known situation that can contribute to halitosis is xerostomia (dry mouth).  When our mouth is dry, saliva production decreases, leaving the mouth’s natural ability to clean itself impaired. Saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, which contains properties that reduces bacteria in the mouth. Alcohol consumption, certain medications, breathing through the mouth instead of the nose or a salivary gland disorder can contribute to having a dry mouth.

Ways to Fight Against Bad Breath

  • Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal to remove food particle from the mouth
  • When you are brushing your teeth, also brush your tongue. The tongue is covered with thousands of tiny hairs that can trap bacteria.
  • Have regular checkups with your dentist to rule out gum disease and to correct any faulty restorations, overhanging fillings or leaking crowns, all of which can trap food in the mouth.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless lozenges to increase the flow of saliva.
  • If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water. Try swooshing it around in your mouth for at least twenty seconds to loosen any food particles the bacteria can feed upon.
  • Avoid breath mints and mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Instead of helping, they can make things worse. They only temporarily cover the smell and tend to dry the mouth, creating a more favourable environment for bacteria.
  • Snacking on vegetables such as raw celery or carrots can keep plaque from forming.
  • If you are going to an important meeting or on a big date, avoid foods that can cause bad breath, such as onions and garlic.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption, which can dry the mouth.
  • Quit smoking. Tar and nicotine can build up on the surface of the teeth, tongue and cheeks. It can also dry the mouth and inhibit saliva flow.
  • Chlorophyll is a natural breath freshener and is found in leafy green vegetables like parsley.

Cold Sores

A high proportion of infants and young children suffer from primary herpes virus infection of the lips and oral mucosa. Many of these infections are subclinical and the patient presents no symptoms. Such subclinical infections can lead to a resistance to future infection. However, the virus can remain latent in the lips and in later life can give rise to cold sores, a condition known as recurrent herpes. Such recurrences appear spontaneously or may be precipitated by trauma (e.g. accidental cut of lip when shaving), sunlight and menstruation.

There is also a suggestion that stress can lead to these cold sores, though this has not been proven. Cold sores begin with a burning sensation on the affected area of the lips which is usually followed by the development of a painful blister (vesicles) which eventually become ulcers (pustules) and then heal gradually in 7 – 14 days. Cold sores are contagious and strict hygiene measures should be adopted when a family member is infected.

Prevention Prevention is problematical though the use of sun barrier creams will help reduce attacks in those holidaying in the sun. Also a well established product on the market (contains 5% w/w acyclovir), if applied during the early burning phase, has been shown to be very effective in reducing the length of the blister stage and can get rid of the pustule stage.

Dry Mouth

What is dry mouth or xerostomia?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a persistent feeling that there is not enough saliva in your mouth, making talking and eating difficult or embarrassing. Saliva lubricates and protects your mouth from infection by bacteria, from chemicals in the atmosphere and from hot food and drinks. Saliva coats your teeth and protects them. Reduced saliva flow, which causes dry mouth, can cause dental decay and contribute to bad breath. Do I have dry mouth?

The effects of dry mouth may be severe, moderate or mild. Mild sufferers of dry mouth are unlikely to even know they are affected. Maybe you’ve noticed food sticking to the roof of your mouth and food just won’t go down? You probably see your dry mouth symptoms as normal, and simply try drinking more.

If you’re a moderate dry mouth sufferer, you may also be unaware of it, even though you’re licking your lips constantly and finding that your mouth feels sticky or dry. You might be avoiding certain foods, and denture-wearers will find that their dentures don’t stay in place. You probably try to alleviate symptoms of dry mouth by drinking more, sucking sweets or applying lip balm.

Severe sufferers of dry mouth will find that dry mouth symptoms have a serious impact on their quality of life. As a severe sufferer of chronic dry mouth, you may experience a sore mouth or tongue when eating, cracked lips, blisters and mouth ulcers. Your dentist may be seeing rampant decay, serious plaque levels and food debris, fungal infections, a “pebbled” tongue and red and shiny tongue and cheeks. What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

Dry mouth sufferers often don’t notice that they are suffering from dry mouth until their saliva flow has already dropped by 50%. Symptoms of dry mouth include: a feeling of soreness in the mouth; stickiness to the touch and cracking at the corners of the mouth; a red and parched mouth or pebbled look to the tongue; difficulty eating dry or spicy foods; food just not tasting like it used to; difficulty speaking; a tendency to wake up more often during the night; bad breath.

What are the causes of dry mouth?

Reduction in saliva flow, which results in dry mouth and throat, may have one or more of five underlying causes:

  1. Medicines. The more medicines you take, the more likely you are to suffer from chronic dry mouth. Many everyday medicines cause dry mouth, including over-the-counter cold remedies and antihistamines. Anti-depressants, some beta-blockers, anti-hypertensives and diuretics can also be common dry mouth causes.
  2. Age. As people get older, they tend to take more medicines. This is the primary reason why older people are more likely to suffer from chronic dry mouth. Older people are more likely to suffer from cancer and Sjögren’s Syndrome.
  3. Sjögren’s Syndrome This chronic condition, in which the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks the body’s own tear and salivary glands, is a major cause of dry mouth.
  4. Diabetes. All types of diabetes can cause increased urination or an underlying metabolic or hormonal problem, which results in dry mouth.
  5. Cancer and Its Treatment. Neck and head cancer patients who have been surveyed ranked dry mouth as one of their most distressing symptoms. Radiotherapy is the worst culprit, affecting the salivary glands and causing a near-total reduction in saliva flow. Many never regain their full flow.

Treatment of dry mouth

  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist
  • Protecting your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your dentist regularly
  • Breathing through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible
  • Using a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air
  • Using an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute such as Biotene.
  • In severe cases certain prescription medications may be necessary.

Gum Disease

The gums and underlying bone is the foundations on which the teeth rest. Gum disease is an infection of these tissues and if allowed to go unchecked, tooth loss can be inevitable.

Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this stage the condition is reversible with proper oral hygiene. If the disease is allowed to progress to periodontitis irreversible loss of soft tissue and bone may occur, leading to recession of the gums and loosening or loss of teeth. At this stage, deep cleaning of the area by a dental professional and appropriate home oral hygiene are necessary to halt disease progression. A

s the changes are mostly irreversible, early treatment is essential and it is important not to ignore early signs such as bleeding gums

Mouth Cancer

Over 400 cases of Mouth, Head & Neck Cancer (MHNC) are diagnosed every year in Ireland. Mouth, head & neck cancer can affect your lips, gums cheeks, tongue, palate, tonsils, throat (oropharynx), salivary glands, sinuses, nose and voice box (larynx).

Oral cancer incidence increases with age. The incidence of oral cancer is considerably higher in males than in females, although more women are being diagnosed in recent years.

Both smoking and alcohol are important independent risk factors and there is now convincing evidence that their combined effect is greater than the sum of the risks associated with either. Also there is evidence of a dose response between tobacco smoking, the more one smokes the greater the risk of oral cancer.

Although oral cancer can occur without any pre-cancer signs, there are a number of well established pre-cancerous lesions also linked with smoking and alcohol consumption. Many of these have a whitish colour and may not be painful.

While the number of these lesions such as leukoplakia which will become cancerous is extremely low, nevertheless a considerably higher proportion of people with these lesions develop oral cancer.

What are the symptoms? The symptoms of mouth, head and neck cancer can include:

  • A sore or ulcer in your mouth that does not heal
  • White or red patches inside the mouth
  • A lump in the mouth or neck
  • Thickening or hardening of the cheek or tongue
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue
  • Numbness of the tongue or face
  • A persistent sore throat and hoarseness
  • Persistent nosebleeds and a stuffy nose
  • Unexplained loose teeth.

Remember, these symptoms can also be due to complaints other than cancer. However if you have any of these symptoms, for more than three weeks, it is important that you have them checked by your dentist or doctor.

Prevention The key to the prevention of oral cancer is not to smoke tobacco or give up smoking if already smoking and adopt a sensible approach to the consumption of alcohol. Early diagnosis has been clearly established as important for a successful outcome hence, regular dental check-ups, (every two years for adults) whether you have your own natural teeth or dentures are strongly advised.

Source: Dental Health Foundation Ireland

Mouth Ulcers

Many people suffer from recurrent ulcers in the mouth. These can be extremely painful. The most common form is called minor aphthous ulceration (MIAU). Teenagers are most frequently affected, though many experience their first lesions well outside this age range. Usually one to five small ulcers appear (less than 1mm in diameter) on the inside of lips or cheeks, floor of the mouth or tongue. The ulcers tend to be concentrated towards the front of the mouth. Prior to the ulcers appearing, the patient may experience a burning or prickling sensation.

The ulcers are painful, particularly if the tongue is involved and may make speaking and eating difficult. The course of these ulcers varies from a few days to a little over two weeks, but most commonly they last for about 10 days. Some minor trauma such as vigorous toothbrushing or an irregular filling can be precipitating factors.

There is evidence also that abnormalities of the immune system are associated with aphthous ulceration. A more severe form called major aphthous ulceration (MJAU) can affect any part of the oral mucosa including the soft palate, tonsillor area and can extend into the oropharynx. The ulcers are larger than those seen in MIAU and last longer, up to periods of months in some cases.

There are other forms of oral ulceration for example the ulceration may be part of a syndrome involving ulceration of the eyes, genitalia, the nervous systems & joints.

Prevention Because the cause of these ulcers is not known prevention is difficult. It is important to seek the advice of a dentist who may decide to refer the more severe cases to a specialist in oral medicine for more thorough investigation.

Maintenance of a high level of oral hygiene will reduce the likelihood of secondary infection when ulcers are present; this of course can prove difficult since patients may find toothbrushing too painful. Covering agents, some containing choline salicylate, are also available though they can be difficult to apply. They also may be difficult to keep in place, for example inside the lips and on the tongue due to constant movement.

Use of antiseptics, for example chlorhexdine mouthwash, are reported to be helpful by some patients. Topical steroids can also provide relief. In some females there is complete remission from aphthous ulcers during pregnancy. Hence hormonal therapy has been tried with varied success.

Local anaesthetic lozenges have been used as a last resort to give the patient some relief for example, when eating

Source: Dental Health Foundation Ireland


On eating, some people suffer sharp bouts of pain especially when they take cold food or drinks into their mouths. This condition, known as cervical dentine sensitivity, is a result of exposure of the root surface at the gum margin, often caused by gum disease or by over-vigorous toothbrushing with a hard toothbrush (getting “long in the tooth”). This condition is becoming more common since more and more people are retaining their natural teeth into middle and old age. The condition can be quite distressing.

Prevention Precautions outlined above to prevent gum disease and also abrasion will also help reduce the incidence of cervical dentine sensitivity. In severe cases the advice of a dentist should be sought who may decide to place a protective filling over the sensitive site. It is also worth noting that sensitivity can also be due to other reasons such as a loose or cracked filling, another reason for seeking the advice of a dentist.

Alternatively there are different preventive methods such as high concentration fluoride varnishes which can alleviate the sensitivity. The oral health care industry has responded to the increased prevalence of cervical dentine sensitivity and a number of “sensitivity” toothpastes are currently on the market. There is growing clinical evidence that these toothpastes can help alleviate the pain from cervical dentine sensitivity.

Source: Dental Health Foundation Ireland

Fractured/Knocked Out/Tooth Trauma

If a tooth is knocked out (avulsed), make sure it is a permanent tooth (primary teeth should not be replanted).

  • Keep the patient calm
  • Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the white part). Avoid touching the root
  • If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly (10 seconds) under cold running water and reposition it. Try to encourage the patient / parent to replant the tooth. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position
  • If this is not possible, place the tooth in a suitable storage medium, e.g. a glass of milk or a special storage media for teeth if available. The tooth can also be transported in the mouth, keeping it between the molars and the inside of the cheek. Avoid storage in water
  • Seek emergency dental treatment immediately.

In the case of a primary (baby) tooth that is knocked out completely:

  • Parents/carers should make no attempt to replant a primary (baby) tooth that is knocked out as they could damage the permanent (adult) tooth that is developing under the gum – the child should be brought to a dentist to be checked.

For all other types of fracture or trauma to the teeth seek immediate dental treatment. Apply a cold compress to the area in the meantime to reduce swelling as this can further damage the teeth.

Sports Mouth Guards

A mouthguard is a specially made, rubber-like cover which fits exactly over your teeth and gums, cushioning them and protecting them from damage. It is important to wear a professionally made mouthguard whenever you play sport that involves physical contact or moving objects. This includes: Rugby, Gaelic Football, Hurling, Boxing, Kickboxing, Martial arts, Hockey, American Football and Cricket. Mouthguards are made by taking an accurate impression of your mouth and making the mouthguard fit your own teeth. The dentist will register the way your jaws bite together to make sure the mouthguard meets properly with your teeth. There are cheaper kits available. They involve heating the product in hot water and then putting it in your mouth until it sets. Unfortunately, these mouthguards can fit badly and be uncomfortable to wear. They can fall out or even cause choking. Also the material is at its thinnest where it is needed most. There are many types of mouthguard including striped, multi-coloured and clear. Many people now have coloured mouthguards made in their favourite team’s colours or to match their own sports strip.

Children's Diet and their Teeth

Breast milk provides the best source of nourishment for the early months of life. Mothers are encouraged and supported in breastfeeding and may choose to continue to breastfeed as the weaning diet becomes increasingly varied.

Children have high energy needs for growth and development. It is important that children are given energy rich foods that are nutritious such as cereals, breads, dairy foods, and meats, chicken and eggs. Foods from the first four shelves of the food pyramid should be used to replace foods from the very top shelf that are high in added sugars/fats such as chocolate, cakes and sweets.

Practical tips: Foods

  • Do not add sugar to home prepared weaning foods
  • Limit baby foods sweetened with added sugars


  • Suitable fluids include water (boiled and cooled for infants under 1 year). Natural mineral waters are not suitable for infants.
  • Fruit juices should be unsweetened, well diluted (1 measure to 4 or 5 measures of water) and given at mealtimes from a cup. Baby juices and herbal drinks are not needed, but if given should be used sparingly, and only at mealtimes from a feeding cup.
  • Colas, squashes, fizzy drinks and diet drinks are unsuitable for infants.
  • Foods should never be added to the baby bottle.

Baby Bottle/Nursing Decay Parents/carers of infants should be warned particularly about the dangers of putting fruit juices or sugar sweetened drinks into feeding bottles or reservoir feeders and giving these to the baby/toddler to hold, especially in bed. Such practices result in almost continuous bathing of the enamel with sugars and leads to severe and rapid tooth destruction, a condition described as baby bottle/nursing decay.

“Children should be fed and put to bed NOT, put to bed and fed”

  • Do make sure that your child does not sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth
  • Do avoid all sugar-containing liquids in nap or bedtime bottle
  • Do encourage drinking from a cup
  • Do discontinue bottle feeding by your child’s first birthday
  • Do avoid dipping a soother in sugar, honey or anything sweet before giving to your child.

This video gives tips on how to reduce our intake of sugar-sweetened drinks. And here is a Tooth Tips Chart for 0-2 year olds to help them develop good dental habits.

School children/adolescents Changes in eating habits due to relative independence from family influences and the influence of peers can result in changes in health behaviours and diet, specifically in relation to sugar.

Overall, there has been a slight improvement in the dietary habits of school aged children in recent years: the 2006 Irish Health Behaviour of School Aged Children (HBSC) Study reports a slightly higher percentage of children consuming fruits and vegetables more than once daily and a slightly lower percentage consuming sweets and soft drinks daily or more often, compared with 2002. The HBSC study also reported evidence of a social class gradient, with children from the highest social classes (SC 1-2) more likely to have frequent fruit and vegetables consumption and less likely to have frequent soft drink consumption.

The slight improvements in children’s dietary habits are likely linked to similar changes in adult dietary habits revealed by the 2007 SLÁN. It can be conjectured that these slight changes in dietary habits stem from a greater population awareness of the health impacts of lifestyle behaviour, in light of the concern for rising obesity in Ireland. However, eating habits, specifically in relation to sugar, can be changed by peer influence as children gain relative independence from family influences. Overall, 39% of the children surveyed in the 2006 HBSC survey reported eating sweets and 26% drinking soft drinks daily or more frequently, with higher rates in the older age groups. The graphs below show the breakdown of daily sweets and soft drinks consumption by age group, gender and social class.

Practical tips: Foods

  • Suggestions for between meal snacks are fruit, crisp raw vegetables, sandwiches, variety of breads, yoghurts, low fat cheese, plain popcorn and scones
  • Cereals are excellent energy providers, but avoid the sugar-coated types


  • Milk, water, and sugar free squashes are suitable
  • Diet drinks in moderation can be an alternative

Health implications of soft drinks Rising consumption of soft drinks is causing concern according to recent research in the United States. Particular concern is highlighted about the long term effects of soft drinks displacing milk in the diet of teenage girls. If teenagers do not get enough dietary calcium in these vulnerable years they increase their risk of developing osteoporosis in later life.

Dental Health Implications The frequent consumption of sugar containing fizzy drinks not only put teeth at risk to decay but can also cause erosion of the enamel. This is due to their acidic content (see Tooth Wear for more details).

Fruit juices are an important source of vitamins in the diet. However, they should be taken with meals for two reasons. The frequent consumption of these can lead to enamel erosion and although pure juices may not contain sucrose they are rich in fructose and can also be cariogenic.

Brushing Your Child's Teeth

The most effective way to remove plaque from the teeth and prevent gum disease is by brushing regular brushing. A toothbrush with a small head and soft or medium bristles is recommended. Position the bristles of the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and gums, placing the end of the bristles at the point where the tooth and gums meet. With light pressure, vibrate the brush back and forth with very short strokes, keeping the same angle and position at the margin of the teeth and gums. Concentrate on 2-3 teeth at a time and repeat the process until all the front and back surfaces of the teeth have been cleaned. Finally, brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth with a horizontal motion.

Parents are advised not to use toothpaste when brushing their children’s teeth until the age of two years. Prior to this parents can brush their children’s teeth with a toothbrush and tap water. Professional advice on the use of fluoride toothpaste should be sought where a child below two years of age is considered at high risk of developing dental decay. Children should be able to brush their own teeth when they are able to tie their own shoes, as this demonstrates sufficient manual dexterity. Parents should supervise children when brushing up to seven years of age and should ensure that only a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is used and that swallowing of the paste is avoided. After the age of 2, an adult fluoride toothpaste can be used as studies have shown adult toothpaste to be more effective at preventing decay then children’s toothpaste.

Here is a video on the correct way to brush your children’s teeth, a Brushing Chart to help you help your little ones keep a record of every time they brush their teeth and even The Story of the Tooth.

Thumb Sucking

Babies get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from sucking things – including their own thumbs. There is no real harm in letting them suck their thumbs. Most infants will stop of their own accord. You can expect children to have given up sucking by the age of 4 years.

Thumbsucking is only really a problem if children go on sucking their thumbs after this age. Some children suck their thumbs very hard. This can pull their teeth out of shape. Children who suck hard should be helped to give up. It you want to help a child to give up sucking, remember that sucking makes the child feel contented and secure. Encourage the child to do other things instead.

Children's Teeth

A common question from parents is when can they expect their children’s teeth to come in? This is also called Tooth Eruption.  You can expect teeth to generally start appearing on the following schedule: Upper Baby (Primary) Teeth

Central incisor 7.5 mths Lateral incisor 8 mths Canine 16-20 mths First molar 12-16 mths Second molar 21-30 mths


Central incisor 6.5 mths Lateral incisor 7 mths Canine 16-20 mths First molar 12-16 mths Second molar 21-30 mths

Eruption times of permanent teeth Upper

Central incisor 7 – 8 yrs Lateral incisor 8 – 9 yrs Canine 11 – 12 yrs First premolar 10 – 11 yrs Second premolar 10 – 12 yrs First molar 6 – 7 yrs Second molar 12 – 13 yrs Third molar 17 – 21 yrs


Central incisor 6 – 7 yrs Lateral incisor 7 – 8 yrs Canine 9 – 10 First premolar 10 – 12 yrs Second premolar 11 – 12 yrs First molar 6 – 7 yrs Second molar 12 – 13 yrs Third molar 17 – 21 yrs

Oral Hygiene Instructions


The most effective way to remove plaque from the teeth and prevent gum disease is by brushing regular brushing. A toothbrush with a small head and soft or medium bristles is recommended. Position the bristles of the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and gums, placing the end of the bristles at the point where the tooth and gums meet. With light pressure, vibrate the brush back and forth with very short strokes, keeping the same angle and position at the margin of the teeth and gums. Concentrate on 2-3 teeth at a time and repeat the process untill all the front and back surfaces of the teeth have been cleaned. Finally, brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth with a horizontal motion.

Electric Toothbrush

Angle the bristles at 45º to the gum line. There’s no need to scrub – hold the brush in position and after a few seconds sweep the bristles away from the gum. Repeat around the outer and inner surfaces of all teeth. This is particularly effective inter-dentally.  The whole procedure should take about 2 minutes.

Flossing You can clean between your teeth with dental floss, interdental brushes or tape. Dental tape is thicker than floss and many people find it easier to use. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gumline, areas a toothbrush can’t reach. You should clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss.

The following suggestions may help:

  1. Break off about 30cm of floss, and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the other hand. As you use the floss, you will take up the used section with this finger.
  2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and forefingers, with about an inch of floss between them, leaving no slack. Use a gentle ‘rocking’ motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Do not jerk the floss or snap the floss into the gums.
  3. When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth until you feel resistance.
  4. Hold the floss against the tooth. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on the other side of the gap, along the side of the next tooth.
  5. Don’t forget the back of your last tooth.When flossing, keep to a regular pattern. Start at the top and work from left to right, then move to the bottom and again work from the left to right. This way you’re less likely to miss any teeth. At first it also helps to look in the mirror.

Click to view a video on the correct flossing technique.

Mini Flosser

Cleaning between the teeth is an essential part of a daily oral hygiene regime. Conventional flossing can be difficult especially when the teeth are very close together. The Miniflosser can help gain access to the interdental areas with floss.  A Specially designed bite plane allows you to gently ease the floss between the teeth. Plaque in the interdental area can be dislodged with a gentle backwards and forwards motion. Visible plaque will be removed. Click to view a video on the correct use of the mini flosser.

Interdental Brushing

The TePe interdental brush is used to clean in between teeth. Turning the brush on insertion will help access. Used daily, it removes plaque and food debris where your usual brush cannot reach. For spaces at the back of the mouth, bend the brush in a slight curve but never at right angles, this will help you access the more difficult-to-reach areas.  A choice of 8 colour-coded sizes is available to help clean different sized spaces. Click to view a video on how to use the TePe interdental brush

Superfloss It is essential to floss beneath your bridge in order to maintain the health of the teeth and gums and also to increase the lifespan of the bridge by helping prevent decay on the adjacent teeth. We recommend using Oral-B superfloss and you can view the correct technique for using dental floss in this video.

Dietary Advice

Adults and Older people Loss of natural teeth is associated with poor nutritional status in the elderly. Consumption of sugars seems to be higher in older adults than in younger adults.

A tendency towards reduced salivary flow together with a higher sugar intake and increased gum recession, places the older person with natural teeth at greater risk of dental caries (root caries) than younger adults.

This population group tend to be frequent users of over the counter medicines, e.g. cough drops, laxatives, antacids and various tonics, which are generally high in sugar. The most important cause of dental erosion in adults is regurgitation and acidic drinks. Dietary advice for dental health for adults with natural teeth should be consistent with general health dietary guidelines.

Practical tips: Foods

  • Elderly people should be encouraged to eat a variety of healthy foods as snacks from the food pyramid.


  • The consumption of 8-10 cups of fluid a day is important for this age group.

Read more information on the dental care of older person.

Source: Dental Health Foundation Ireland

Smoking and Dental Health

Your Mouth – The Effects of Smoking

  • Smoking causes bad breath
  • Smoking causes a bad taste in the mouth
  • Smoking causes tartar on teeth
  • Smoking is associated with gum diseaseSmoking stains the teeth, tongue and dentures
  • Smoking causes mouth cancer … even a few a day puts you at risk


Did you Know That

  • Mouthwashes and smokers’ toothpastes may be effective in removing stains and making your mouth feel fresher but they cannot treat any underlying damage caused by smoking.
  • Dentists are very aware of the risks to health from smoking. In fact, 6 out of 7 Irish Dentists don’t smoke.

Your Mouth – The Benefits of Not Smoking

  • Your teeth will look cleaner
  • Your breath will be fresher
  • Your food will taste better
  • Your risk of mouth cancer drops dramatically
  • Your general health will also improve

The benefits of stopping smoking begin immediately. Stopping smoking decreases the risk of:

  • Lung Cancer and other Cancers
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Bronchitis and Emphysema

Additional Benefits:

  • Women who stop smoking before pregnancy or during the first 3-4 months of pregnancy, reduce the risk of having a low birthweight baby.
  • Ex-Smokers live longer than continuing smokers.
  • You will be free of the pollution of tar, carbon monoxide and other poisons.
  • You will be free from the dependence on Nicotine and feel in control of your life.
  • You will be free from smokers’ cough.
  • Breathing will improve very quickly and you will experience a sense of well being.

Extra Support and Information is available from

  • Your Family Doctor is a good source of information and advice on giving up smoking.
  • Your local Health Centre may be running a support group for people stopping smoking. Ring them and ask.
  • Your local Pharmacist will advise you on a range of products which may help you in stopping smoking.
  • The National Smoker’s Quitline – Phone: 1850 201 203.