Press release

Dental health guidance recommends a healthy lifestyle to help protect oral health

Public Health England has released the latest Delivering Better Oral Health guidance today.


The guidance for dental health professionals provides them with evidence-based interventions and advice that can improve and maintain the oral health of their patients.

The guidance highlights the positive impact a healthy lifestyle has on oral health; in particular the role played by good tooth brushing habits and a healthy diet, along with stopping tobacco use and reducing alcohol consumption to within the lower risk guidelines.

To help prevent tooth decay, the guidance recommends:

  • Advising parents and carers regarding their children’s diets and tooth brushing habits. Brushing children’s teeth as soon as they erupt at about 6 months, brushing before bed and at least one other time daily using a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Advising adults and parents and carers regarding the strength of fluoride toothpaste to use for themselves and their children and that after brushing, to spit out excess toothpaste and saliva, not to rinse with either water or a mouthwash.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet based on the eatwell plate and reducing the amount of sugar consumed will help prevent dental caries. Avoid consuming foods and drinks containing added sugar before bedtime, as the mouth produces less saliva at night to protect your teeth.
  • Tobacco use seriously affects general and oral health. People who use tobacco should receive advice to stop and be offered support to do so, with a referral to their local stop smoking service.
  • Drinking alcohol above the national guidelines adversely affects oral health, including significantly increasing the risk of oral cancers. Dental teams should identify any risk and offer brief advice on how to work towards drinking within the consumption guidelines and refer potentially dependent drinkers to local support services.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said:

I am delighted to announce the launch of the 3rd edition of PHE’s Delivering Better Oral Health guidance; an evidence based toolkit to support dental teams in improving their patients’ oral health. Many of the risk factors for general health conditions also affect oral health such as smoking, alcohol misuse and a poor diet.

Dental teams have a really important role in advising their patients about how they can improve and maintain both their dental and general health. We must all work together to ensure that good oral and dental health is protected and promoted and the prevalence of tooth decay is reduced.


Notes to editors

  • Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.
  • Bacteria in the mouth convert sugars in the diet to acid, causing decay in the tooth surface. Frequent consumption of sugar will allow the decay to progress, but early decay can be arrested or even healed if the environment is made more favourable for the tooth.
  • Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease, reduces benefits of treatment and increases the chance of losing teeth. At least 50 different diseases are caused by tobacco use including various types of cancers, ischaemic heart disease, strokes and chronic lung disease.
  • Men should not regularly consume more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol per day. Women should not regularly consume more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol per day. Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol but if they choose to drink they should limit this to no more than 1 to 2 units once or twice a week and avoid getting drunk. Excessive alcohol intake is also associated with dental trauma and facial injury either through accidental falls, road traffic accidents or violence, both domestic and street related.
  • Dental teams can engage with tobacco and alcohol users by offering Very Brief Advice, using a ‘30 second approach’, to signpost them to local stop smoking and alcohol support services.

Public Health England

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road


Published 12 June 2014