Skipping teeth brushing before bed can affect the whole body, warns dentist

Dr Alex George reveals best time to brush your teeth

From a very young age we’re taught the importance of brushing our teeth twice a day to stop plaque building up.

Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats the teeth, and if you don’t brush them properly, it can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.

But recent research found more than half (51 percent) of UK adults skip toothbrushing once a week. 

Research carried out by the Oral Health Foundation found one in eight (13 percent) people are not brushing their teeth regularly – at least three times a week.

It also found people are more than twice as likely to miss out on brushing their teeth at night (39 percent), compared to the morning (19 percent).

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It was also revealed younger adults are far more likely to skip brushing – two in three (65 percent) under 35s miss out brushing their teeth once a week, compared to four in ten (40 percent) of over 55s.

Specialist Periodontist and Implant Surgeon Dr Sulaman Anwar wasn’t surprised by the findings because many of the patients he sees tend to treat their mouth in isolation to the rest of their body.

He said: “Patients often think that because they’re going to the dentist, we’re only going to focus on their teeth, but we’ve moved away from that now.

“We know that bacteria from the mouth will travel all around the body. Some will go towards the brain, and some will travel towards the heart.”

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Further findings from the Oral Health Foundation’s research showed nearly one in four (24 percent) Uk adults mostly brush their teeth once a day.

The data also showed men (69 percent) are far less likely to brush their teeth twice a day, versus women (82 percent).

Worryingly, one-in-ten (10 percent) people were found to brush their teeth for only one minute or less, compared to the standard recommended two minutes.

Dr Anwar stressed poor oral health is linked to many different health conditions, including heart disease, strokes, dementia, pregnancy complications – even sexual health.

He said: “The mouth is the gateway to the body, all of these can be affected by your dental health regime.

“If people aren’t looking after their teeth, or they’re just brushing once per day, particularly if they’re skipping the night-time clean, they’re leaving a lot of bacteria on their teeth.

“At night, while they’re sleeping and not producing much saliva, that’s predisposing themselves to getting a lot of bacteria going in their bloodstream. Obviously they’re going to get tooth decay, but the bacteria will also circulate around the rest of their body and that long-term ill health will be costlier for their body.”

Develop a good brushing routine

The secret to good brushing is to have a routine and method, said Dr Anwar.

He explained: “For example, I often tell my patients to start on the right side and go all the way across, then to brush their biting surfaces, then the inside of their teeth and then the same thing on the bottom teeth. And then the next day, start on the opposite side.

“Too often people start off brushing aggressively, but by the end that has tapered off and so on a daily basis you might be brushing one area really well but neglecting the other areas.

“And please, please, please clean between your teeth, using either interdental brushes or floss because if you’re not doing that you’re missing 40 percent of your mouth.”

Dr Anwar’s top tips for good oral health

  • Brush twice every day – morning and evening using fluoride toothpaste
  • Prevention is better than cure – have regular dental check-ups – at least once a year
  • Brush or floss between your teeth using dental tape or interdental brushes
  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating. Wait 45 minutes to an hour

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