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Teeth - open wide - looking after your teeth

deciduous teeth; permanent teeth; tooth decay; toothbrush; floss; tooth; teeth; baby teeth; lost tooth; milk teeth; decay; enamel; crown; root; incisor; canine; molar; gum; mouth; plaque; fluoride; food;


Looking after your teeth, gums and mouth

It is important to look after your first teeth and your permanent teeth. Keeping your teeth, gums and mouth clean and healthy can prevent disease and infection, and can help to avoid pain and sickness. Also a clean healthy mouth feels nice, looks good and keeps your breath fresh.

Your teeth need to be cleaned really well 2 times every day. This is because germs (bacteria (say bak-tee-ria)) in your mouth grow on your teeth and around the gums every day. It is called dental plaque (say pl-ark). Acids or poisons are made in the plaque and these attack the teeth and gums and cause disease. If you keep your teeth clean and healthy every day you will avoid problems like tooth decay, toothache, bleeding gums, yellow teeth and bad breath.

Grab your toothbrush right away!

Tips for a healthy mouth, teeth and gums:

  • Brush your teeth well twice a day - after breakfast and last thing before going to bed. Don't have anything to eat or drink after you have cleaned your teeth before going to bed. Drinking water is ok. 
  • brushing teethUse a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard and medium bristled toothbrushes can damage teeth and gums.
  • Use fluoride (say flu-or-ide) toothpaste. From 6 years of age you can use adult toothpaste, but make sure you spit it out when you have finished cleaning your teeth. Children under 6 need to use a special children's toothpaste.
  • Gently and thoroughly brush each side of every tooth and the gums. It should take about 3 minutes to do them all. 
  • Dental floss cleans between your teeth but should only be used if you have been shown how to floss at the dentist.
  • You could check your toothbrushing skills by rinsing with a liquid called Disclo-gel. This is a pink liquid that stains plaque pink and makes it easier to see. Disclo-gel can be bought from a chemist. If your teeth are not totally clean, there will be a pink stain on a tooth. Brush that stain off and remember how you did it, so that you can add that to how you clean your teeth. Try this occasionally so you know if you have learnt these new skills.
  • If you live in South Australia the SA Dental Service has clinics at many schools. School children can go to their nearest clinic for check-ups, treatment and to learn how to look after their teeth properly. Go to to find out more.

Keeping your toothbrush safe from germs

  • After brushing, rinse your toothbrush under running water.
  • Store your toothbrush in a clean dry place.
  • Do not share a toothbrush as this can spread germs.
  • Replace your toothbrush often.
  • Wash your hands after going to the toilet and before using your toothbrush.

Tooth-friendly foods and drinks

  • food for healthy teethChoose a wide variety of healthy foods every day.
  • Finish a meal with a drink of tap water - this washes your teeth and mouth.
  • Choose tap water as a drink. It is tooth-friendly and your body likes it too. Don't have fizzy drinks especially ones that contain sugars and acids. These can cause tooth decay. Bottled water is not so good for teeth. It does not have fluoride in it.
  • Where possible choose medicines that are sugar free.
  • Milk and cheese are tooth-friendly foods. They contain calcium which will help to repair tooth enamel.

If you want to know more about healthy food look up 'Your Food' on this site.

A variety of foods is best for your teeth.
happy teeth

Did you know?

  • If you look after your teeth you can keep them forever.
  • Teeth are the hardest part of your body.
  • Sharks have three rows of teeth and they grow new ones if they lose any.
  • People do not grow new teeth if they loose a tooth once their adult teeth replace their baby teeth, so take good care of the ones that you have.
  • Fluoride was introduced into toothpaste in the 1970s.
  • Fluoride was introduced into the water supply in Adelaide in 1971. Kids in South Australia now have much healthier teeth than their grandparents had because the fluoride makes their teeth stronger.
  • In the year 1770 the first toothbrush was invented and so were the first false teeth (made out of porcelain) by William Addis in England.

In the year 1790 John Greenwood of U.S.A invented the dental drill.

It was very big and heavy and the dentist had to turn a handle [like using a hand drill for drilling holes in wood] to drill out all the bad bits in the tooth. It was a very slow and painful process and people only went to the dentist when they couldn't stand the pain of toothache any longer!

It must have been a bit terrifying to go to the dentist in the olden days.

 visiting the dentist

Nowadays it is very different.

The people at the dental clinic are there to help you.

They teach you how to look after your teeth and avoid decay.

They can repair teeth and it doesn't hurt.

They can help protect your teeth from decay.

This is what some people had to say about going to the dentist nowadays.

My teeth
I went to the dentist one day,
He said that I had some decay.
My tooth was real sore,
I brushed my teeth more
And then the pain went away.
When my teeth started to go green
I realised that they weren't clean!
(by Kramer)

Mikyla writes,

"When I went to the dentist I wasn't scared because I was just having a check-up. When the dentist had looked in my mouth she said that I had a wobbly tooth and that it was okay so I got a sticker and went home."
visiting the dentist

Ellen wants you to know that going to the dentist may make you feel a bit nervous. When you get there they check your teeth. If you need some treatment you may have an injection to stop it hurting. They make the hole in your tooth a bit bigger to get out any bad stuff, then they fill it up with a special filling.

You rinse your mouth out then you can go home.

Your mouth can feel a bit funny for about an hour if you have an injection, but you know that your tooth is okay.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim
"Learn to brush your teeth properly twice a day and you can be proud of your shiny smile."

smiling teeth

Keep your teeth clean and bright
Brush them every day and night
Drink lots of water every day
Throw the fizzy drink away.
Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush
Very careful, please don't rush.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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