LONDON, May 12 /PRNewswire/ --

- Top Tips for Healthy Teeth

- ATTN: Feature Editors

If you want a beaming smile but your all important brushing and flossing still leaves you frowning, take advice from Chief Dental Officer, Barry Cockcroft, on keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Best brushing

In one year, we spend the equivalent of an entire day brushing our teeth - that's if you brush for the recommended two minutes, twice daily.

A toothbrush with a small head makes it easier to clean every part of your mouth, and a family strength toothpaste with a minimum of 1,000 parts per million of fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay.

TIP: To make sure that the fluoride in toothpaste has its best effect, don't rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Instead, rinse with an anti-bacterial fluoride mouthwash to give your teeth extra protection.

Children's tooth health

Children in England already have good oral health habits. According to the World Health Organisation, our 12 year olds have the best oral health in Europe, with 62% boasting no tooth decay.

12 year olds have an average of less than one decayed, missing or filled tooth each, so great progress has been since 1978 when they had an average of over five.

TIP: To protect your children from tooth decay, brush your children's teeth as soon as they come through. Remember, tooth decay is completely preventable with regular brushing.

Tooth care for the elderly

If you ever wondered why your grandparents always have a tin of boiled sweets to hand, it might be because their mouths feel dry. As we age, we begin to produce less saliva, and boiled sweets can help make the mouth more comfortable. Unfortunately, sucking sweets can be detrimental to oral health as the constant stream of sugar on the teeth can cause them to decay.

TIP: For a healthier smile, chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva without the high sugar content in boiled sweets. Saliva can actually protect the teeth from decay as it neutralises the enamel-dissolving acids produced by sugar in our food and drink.

Men, women and dentists

Women are much more conscience of their oral health than men - 66% of women compared to 50% of men visit the dentist for regular check-ups.

With women appearing to take better care of their oral health, it seems strange that more older women than men are without their natural teeth. One of the reasons for this is that in the days before modern dental treatment, brides would have all of their teeth pulled out and a set of dentures put in - as a wedding present!

TIP: If you're pregnant, its especially important to take care of your oral health as your hormones might make your gums red and inflamed. To keep things in check visit an NHS dentist - as an expecting mum, you're entitled to free treatment.

Thirst quenching cavity protection

Fluoridated water is the best drink for the teeth and gums - areas with fluoride added to the tap water have been proven to have 15% less tooth decay.

Surprisingly, tea is also naturally high in fluoride - so we've got an even better reason to reach for our morning brew.

TIP: Protect your teeth by limiting your consumption of sugary drinks. Sipping soft drinks exposes the teeth to a constant sugar source - and sugar is the only cause of tooth decay.

Notes to Editors

Barry Cockcroft

The Chief Dental Officer, Barry Cockcroft is the Government's most senior dental advisor for England and the professional head of dental staff in England.

Barry Cockcroft is a qualified dentist who spent 27 years working in NHS general dental practice before joining the Department of Health in November 2002.

Former posts include:

- Senior House Officer in the Maxillo Facial/Orthodontic department at the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital

- Chairman and Secretary of Warwickshire Local Dental Committee

- Chairman of the West Midlands Association of Local Dental Committees

- A member of the General Dental Services Committee of the BDA

Barry is originally from Bolton and now lives in Rugby. He is married with three children.

Contact details: Rebecca Enwright (Becca), Tel: +44-(0)207-467-9200 (not a direct line), e-mail