It is recommended by dentists that adults and children brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, before bed and on one other occasion during the day. Despite this, the UK’s Oral Health Foundation has recently discovered that over a quarter (26%) of British adults are failing to do so.
The recently conducted research found that a majority of adults who reported brushing just once a day also tended not to brush their teeth before bed, which is a particular cause of concern. Failing to brush your teeth before going to sleep means that the health of your mouth is at a much higher risk of deterioration and puts you at high risk of developing tooth decay and other problems.
It was also interesting to note 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. Other research has also found that those who stay up late playing computer games are much less likely to brush before bed. This was particularly the case for teenagers.
Brushing your teeth before bed, according to Elaine Tilling, dental hygienist and the clinical education manager for TePe Oral Hygiene Products, 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.”
Tilling believes creating a fixed routine and sticking to it is essential for maintaining 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.”
The Oral Health Foundation also points out that poor oral hygiene can not just lead to painful problems with the teeth, but also result in gum disease, which is now linked to many other illnesses and conditions.
The pattern of not brushing sufficiently revealed by the survey correlates strongly with a sharp increase 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, and a further three-in-four (74%) have had teeth extracted.
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.”
Another study recently conducted has revealed that a significant number of adults in the UK have missed one or more of their regular dental examinations during the coronavirus pandemic, 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. If you are feeling uncomfortable about your visit, talk to your dentist to learn more about the many additional measures they are taking to offer patients the safest possible experience.
Posted by Oak Mount Dental Practice
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