Oral Health

The information on this page relates to oral health and includes advice and support to enable you to look after your teeth and oral health. It’s important to remember that your oral health is an important part of your overall health.

Oral health refers to the condition of our mouth, it includes our teeth, mouth, tongue, and cheeks, it is what enables you to eat, breath and speak. Having good oral health can increase your self-confidence, improve your wellbeing and the ability to socialise and work without pain or discomfort.

An unhealthy mouth and teeth can often lead to pain, difficulty sleeping and eating and may lead to holes in your teeth (dental cavities). It can also lead to Gum disease and could eventually lead to having teeth removed (tooth extraction) by the dentist or in hospital.


The positive news is that you can take steps to protect your own oral health and that of the people you may care for;

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (this is most often in the morning and last thing at night).
  • Try reducing your sugary food and drink consumption.
  • Adults should clean between your teeth every day.
  • Register with a dentist and visit every 6 months or as they advise.

For more preventative information and advice on oral health visit: Prevention and advice

If you would like further information and advice relating to healthy foods in order to support your oral health, please visit: Healthy eating


If you are not or cannot register with a dental practice and require urgent advice or treatment you now need to call NHS 111.

After speaking to a call handler, you may be put through to a dental nurse who will advise you on the next steps.

Early Years

It is important to keep babies and children’s teeth and mouths healthy. Starting early will help prevent painful teeth and gums and will help lifelong habits develop. It is advised that you start to brush your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth starts to come through.

Breast feeding up to the age of 12 months is linked to a decreased risk of teeth going bad, for more information and advice on breastfeeding visit: Positive about breastfeeding.


  • Brush your child’s teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, (usually once in the morning and again last thing at night).
  • After brushing your child’s teeth, spit don’t rinse their mouths as this reduces the protection from the fluoride toothpaste.
  • Register and take your child to the dentist once their first tooth has come through and then book regular visits going forward.
  • Reduce the amount of food and drinks that contain sugar, such as fizzy drinks and fruit juice.

For additional advice and support, visit: Best start in life page


  • Children under three, should use a smear of toothpaste
  • Children ages between three and six years old should use a pea sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Parents and/or carers should supervise tooth brushing until the age of seven.
  • Some of the early years or educational setting across Somerset, run supervised toothbrushing schemes, for more information, speak to your early year’s provider or school nurse.

Fluoride Varnishing

Fluoride varnish is a liquid which contains a high concentration of fluoride. It may also come in the form of a gel. A thin layer is applied directly to the teeth. It then hardens and releases fluoride into the enamel. Fluoride is a mineral which helps strengthen tooth enamel, thereby making teeth more resistant to decay.

For more information on the benefits of fluoride varnishing on your child’s teeth or for eligibility for the schemes across Somerset, please speak to your Health Visitor. The role of a health visitor


Keeping adult teeth and mouths healthy is important for your overall health and wellbeing.

You can improve your oral health and avoid tooth loss by:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (recommended 1000-1500 ppm)
  • Clean between your teeth every day (flossing) – Why should I use interdental brushes?
  • Have a well-balanced diet, which is low in sugar, high in fruit and vegetables
  • Increase you water intake
  • Stop all use of tobacco, including chewing of areca nuts
  • Reduce your alcohol content
  • Consider the effects of any drug use
  • Use protective equipment when doing sports or traveling on a bike to reduce the risk of facial injuries

Saliva can help to reduce the effects of acid build-up, however during the night, the mouth doesn’t make as much, therefore it is important that the last thing you do before bed is brush your teeth and do not eat anything afterwards.

For additional information and advice on taking care of your teeth and gums, visit; Take care of your teeth and gums

Older Adults

Keeping your teeth and mouths healthy as you age is important and can prevent pain and discomfort and even difficulties eating and drinking.

Carers play a vital role in helping adults who have additional needs with their mouth care; preparation and brushing technique are really important. For example; supporting someone’s head and then working your way around the mouth when brushing.

Even if you no longer have any teeth, it is still important to clean food and bacteria from their mouth every day. You should use a soft brush to clean the gums, cheeks and tongue.

Denture care includes;

  • Removing them at night
  • Checking for chips
  • Storing them in a container
  • Rinsing before reinserting


Some people may have difficulty brushing their teeth and could benefit from using a different kind of brush.

There are different types of brushes available, manual brushes, electric brushes with a rotating action and three-sided brushes which can brush all three surfaces at once. Toothbrushes can also be adapted to meet individual needs.

Caring for someone else's teeth

If you have someone relying on your care, you may be able to access a free oral health improvement webinar, for more information on these webinars, eLearning and resources visit: The Learning Centre

Document preview

This Oral Health Training Toolkit contains information around promoting good oral hygiene as well as useful links, training resources and e-learning modules.

PDF, 6.2MB

Last reviewed: March 22, 2024 by Adam

Next review due: September 22, 2024

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