Dental dos and don'ts for straight, white teeth

A survey conducted by TePe ahead of Oral Health Day on Thursday reveals that a staggering 50% of people haven't been to the dentist in six months or in fact have never been!

So today we're joined by Dentist Nicola Mulhaire who'll be giving us the dental dos and don'ts, as well as telling you how to get the perfect white straight smile!

TEETH WHITENING

TIPS FOR WHITENING AT HOME

Developing solid dental hygiene habits is the most effective natural teeth whitening treatment. Regular brushing and flossing coupled with avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks that are known to stain are the best ways to keep your teeth bright.

1. SWISH WATER IN YOUR MOUTH If you find yourself unable to brush your teeth shortly after drinking coffee or soda, you can limit the staining that will occur by taking a swig of water and swishing it around in your mouth for a few moments. Rinsing your mouth out will remove a great deal of the film that will otherwise sit on your teeth and stain them. It's important to do this as soon as possible after drinking.

2. USE A STRAW Whenever you can drink colas and sports drinks through a straw, you should do so. Drinking them this way will limit the amount they come in contact with your teeth which will reduce staining. A straw brings the liquids directly to the back of your mouth and keeps your teeth white.

3. CHEW GUM Chewing sugarfree gum after eating and drinking will help clean teeth. Chewing gum will help get in between teeth and gums and remove food particles. Gum should never be a substitute for brushing, but it can give them a fresh feeling when brushing isn't possible.

5. BRUSH GENTLY You'd be surprised how many people brush harder than they should without even realizing it. Brushing thoroughly and brushing hard are two different things. You should brush your teeth well, without damaging your gums or wearing away your enamel.

5. EAT CRUNCHY FOODS Eating some crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery or carrots can help clean staining tartar and plaque from your teeth. Chew on these foods whenever you can in order to give your teeth a fresh, clean feeling.

OVER THE COUNTER WHITENING KITS

Home kits are cheaper but they are not always assessed for safety and tend to be more acidic. Kits sold in Europe cannot legally contain more than 0.1% peroxide and this is too little to be effective.

WHITENING TOOTHPASTE Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth these toothpastes may be effective at removing staining and helping to restore the natural colour of your teeth. Therefore, they may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. Whitening toothpaste may also help the effect to last after your teeth have been professionally whitened.

WHITENING TRAYS They are straightforward to use and inexpensive compared with professional tooth whitening. However there can be some issues with the one size fits all tray and they will only remove surface stain.

: WHITENING STRIPS Stripes are inexpensive, less bulky than trays and it's only necessary to wear them for a short time. However they will only remove surface stain, can be difficult to apply and if you're teeth aren't straight they may only cover certain parts of the teeth. They also contain citric acid which can damage teeth and strips will only cover the front teeth.

DENTIST SUPERVISED HOME WHITENING £150-£400

Your dentist will assess your suitability, take impressions of your mouth and will have custom made whitening trays made that will only fit your mouth. They will then provide you with a hydrogen peroxide gel to place in the trays and to wear either overnight or during the day according to their instructions. It takes between 2-4 weeks to complete the treatment depending on the patient. It will change the colour of your teeth and not just remove stains

IN SURGERY WHITENING £300-£600

This is carried out at the dental practice, the treatment is carried out usually in about 1.30-2 hours, a hydrogen peroxide gel is placed on your teeth and activated by a light. eg Zoom. The Zoom light activated whitening gel's active ingredient is Hydrogen Peroxide. As the Hydrogen Peroxide is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin, bleaching coloured substances while the structure of the tooth is unchanged. For most people, whitening can last anything up to 2 years and even more. It really depends on your lifestyle. Most people find teeth whitening procedures to be painless, however some people may experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, or mild gum irritation after the procedure has taken place. This is a temporary effect that could last between 24 to 48 hours after the procedure takes place.

STRAIGHTENING

More and more adults frequently ask for straighter teeth. Straighter teeth give you more than a great smile-they also help to reduce your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. The biggest advantage to having orthodontic treatment, is that your orthodontist or dentist are using your own teeth and moving them into a better position.The alternative of veneers or crowns is less conservative and more destructive to tooth tissue and requires ongoing long term maintenance. It is expensive so it's something that you will need to invest in.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRACES

1. Labial Braces( braces on the outside )

These are the commonest type of braces and used to be known as 'train tracks'. Traditionally they were made of metal but there are now ceramic and clear brackets available so they are a lot less noticeable and just as effective. Average treatment time 18-24 months, cost between £3000-6000.

2. Lingual Braces ( braces on the inside )

They are appliances that can be fitted to the inside surface of the teeth and therefore cannot be seen. The great advantage of this treatment is that they are completely invisible so no one need know you are wearing them. They usually will take slightly longer than the conventional brace on the outside. This is a highly specialised brace and depending on complexity costs vary from £4000-10,000.

3. Clear aligners Invisalign

Invisalign is an orthodontic brace system that uses clear plastic aligners (almost invisible) to treat crooked teeth, crowded teeth and close gaps between teeth. One of the main benefits of Invisalign is that the aligners are made from a clear plastic so that you can undergo orthodontic treatment without having bulky brackets or metal wires showing. The treatment is so discreet that they are often called invisible braces. Pop in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks, until your treatment is complete. It's recommended to wear them for 20-22hours per day, take them out for eating, cleaning and contact sports. Average cost depending on case on if single or dual arch is £1500-3500.

4. Short term orthodontics

These are a more recent alternative to conventional orthodontics which is the gold standard. One of the current popular short term ortho systems is "Six Months Smiles". This treatment is not suitable for everyone as it is designed to treat minor orthodontic problems This brace will address the front teeth, it focuses on the teeth that are visible when you smile but will not change any issues in the back of the mouth as a result of only treating the front tooth. It's much faster than conventional treatments ,the average treatment time is 6-9 months depending on how crooked your teeth are.

Typically the cost of 6 Month Smiles treatment ranges from £2000 to £3500.

Catch up with the last week of This Morning on ITV Player