Health: Secrets to a beautiful smile

The best time to brush your teeth is before breakfast

The best time to brush your teeth is before breakfast - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dr Imogen Bexfield, director of White Swan Aesthetics, which offers facial aesthetics and teeth whitening by dentists in luxury UK salons including Brewhouse Spa in Wheathampstead, gives her top tips for a beautiful, healthy smile

1 Spit, don’t rinse. The most important thing when brushing your teeth (and most people’s biggest error) is rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash after brushing. If you do that, the protective toothpaste just gets washed down the plug hole! The best time to use mouthwash is after a snack or at a separate time to brushing.

2 Don’t be alternative. Even though ‘organic, artisan, handmade, aloe vera toothpaste made by free-range tooth fairies’ might sound appealing, the most important ingredient is fluoride and lots of alternative toothpastes don’t contain it in high enough concentrations to be effective. Fluoride is the key ingredient to fighting decay and is recommended in 1,450ppm concentration for the average adult toothpaste.

3 Get up and brush. The best time to brush your teeth is before breakfast – then you put protective toothpaste on before any sugar is consumed. Also, sugar in food makes teeth soft, so if you brush afterwards you could erode away the tooth surface. Ideally, you should wait 30-60 minutes after eating before brushing.

4 Get a spring clean. The main cause of bleeding gums is gum disease, which is caused by tartar and germs collecting on the teeth and gums. The only cure is to brush teeth well at home and get a professional clean by a dentist or hygienist. No binge drinking of Corsodyl will cure things alone!

5 Your enamel is precious. Veneers and crowns can help improve the appearance of teeth but they come at a price – lots of healthy tooth is often removed, which weakens teeth long term. One of the best and most conservative things you can do to improve the appearance of your teeth is have them professionally whitened by a dentist.

6 Don’t fear, visit once or twice a year. For most people, a dental check once a year is enough to detect early problems with teeth and gums. Don’t forget your dentist is also checking your mouth for more serious conditions like oral cancer.

Most Read has more information on teeth whitening, anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers by qualified dentists.