Click here to activate screen reader, translation and accessibility tools

Healthy smile

Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in children in the UK. Find out how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Last updated: 9 November 2022

Next review: 9 November 2023

Having healthy gums is important for avoiding tooth decay, pain and tooth loss but also lowers the risk of these wider disease, conditions, and complications including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and diabetes.

Top tips to protect your smile and prevent gum disease

  • Swap Sugary drinks and food (PDF) for water, sugar free beverages and foods. A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease, such as foods that have vitamin C, vitamin B12 or omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at night and at least one other time during the day. Brushing removes plaque and bits of food from the inner, outer, and biting surfaces of your teeth.
  • Clean between your teeth with an ‘interdental’ brush or dental floss. Cleaning in between your teeth removes plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and under your gumline - areas a toothbrush can’t reach. Children do not need to floss until the age of 12.
  • Have regular check-ups with your dentist. A professional check-up can spot the symptoms of gum disease.

Signs of unhealthy gums

The following are signs to look out for. If you experience any of these, book an appointment with your dentist immediately

  • Bleeding gum
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth 
  • Receding gums (when your gums pull back from your teeth)

Oral health support

The following services are available for residents and families for FREE:

  1. Healthy teeth workshop: senior dental nurse teaches how to keep children’s teeth healthy from birth into adulthood, including understanding causes of tooth decay, how to prevent it.
  2. Telephone/ video support: There is 1-1 phone or video support available with a senior dental nurse. Contact the office to arrange a time that suits you (wfsupport@henry.org.uk / 0208 496 5223).
  3. Dental surgery list:  List of dental surgeries in the borough that are currently accepting new patients and welcoming children from birth can be found on the Henry's: healthy teeth leaflet(PDF). 

If you are having difficulty finding an NHS dentist, you can call NHS England on 0300 311 2233.

How to find an NHS dentist

To get NHS dental treatment, just contact a practice providing NHS dentistry and ask for an NHS appointment. Whether you need urgent treatment or just a check-up.

Our oral health flyer (PDF) has an updated list of dentists in the borough.

If you are having difficulty finding an NHS dentist, you can call NHS England on 0300 311 2233.