Dentists recommend that adults and children brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. However, a new nationwide poll conducted by the UK’s Oral Health Foundation found that over a quarter (26%) of British adults regularly brush their teeth only once a day.
The study found that brushing before bed was a particular cause of concern, with many people regularly failing to brush their teeth last thing at night, when the health of the mouth is most likely to deteriorate. Insights from the research show that one-in-four (25%) do not brush their teeth in the evening before they go to bed.
The charity’s research also shows that toothbrush skipping is more common in adults under 35 (31%), while men are less likely to brush their teeth twice-daily compared to women.
This pattern of not brushing sufficiently is linked to a rise in dental health problems, with the latest figures showing that two thirds (66%) of UK adults have visible plaque, almost one-in-three (31%) have signs of tooth decay, while three-in-four (74%) have had teeth extracted.
It is important to remember that poor oral hygiene can also lead to gum disease, which is now linked to many other illnesses and conditions.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, highlights the importance of twice daily brushing and believes now is the perfect time for the UK to reassess its oral health habits.
“Twice-daily toothbrushing is the cornerstone to having good oral health because it removes plaque. If plaque is not removed and is allowed to build up, it can cause conditions like tooth decay and gum disease.
“Brushing only once a day can increase the chances of developing tooth decay by up to a third, so setting aside time for the second brush is really important.”
Elaine Tilling, dental hygienist and the clinical education manager for TePe Oral Hygiene Products believes creating a fixed routine is essential for forming healthy habits and argues that now is the perfect time to set one.
“Habits need routine to help them form and toothbrushing is no different. Brushing before bed is arguably the most important time to remove plaque and night-time is generally when we have the most time for ourselves. Ensuring brushing and interdental cleaning before bed is crucial for good oral health.”
Brushing your teeth before bed, according to Tilling, is one of the most powerful defences against tooth decay.
“During sleep we lose the function of saliva, the mouth’s protection against tooth decay. The night-time brush removes the daily build-up of plaque and food debris from the surface of the teeth and gums and helps to ensure that whilst the mouth is at rest, the damage potential from plaque bacteria is removed.”
Separate research recently conducted has revealed that a substantial number of UK adults have missed one or more of their regular dental examinations during the coronavirus, with many reportedly not visiting the dentist for over two years. As well as helping to prevent and treat common problems with the teeth and gums, visiting the dentist regularly can also help to detect early signs of oral cancer, which can be devastating and even deadly if not diagnosed and treated at the earliest opportunity. We would encourage all adults and children to take this opportunity to get back into the habit of regular dental checkups.
Website last updated: October 2021
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