It’s a twice-a-day habit that many won’t give much thought.
But dentists have now revealed that the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth.
From forgetting a key practice alongside brushing, to cleaning teeth at the wrong time of the day, Dr Sameer Patel and Dr Safa Al-Naher explain the ways to keep your pearly whites.
Dr Patel, founder and clinical director at Elleven Dental in central London, said: ‘If we don’t look after our oral health it can have serious implications on our health further down the line.
‘Aside from chronically bad breath (halitosis), neglecting to look after your teeth and gums can lead to issues including gum disease, teeth abscesses, decay, infections and even tooth loss.’
Forgetting to floss
Everyone knows that they are supposed to brush their teeth twice a day.
But only one in three Brits are thought to floss daily.
This is despite the NHS urging everyone aged 12 and over to do so, as brushing alone only cleans the 40 per cent of the tooth surface that a brush can’t reach.
The practice not only helps keep the gums healthy and teeth white, as evidence also suggests it has other major health benefits.
Dr Patel said: ‘Increasingly, studies show the importance of flossing for neurological and cardiac health as well.
‘Flossing removes plaque from below the gumline, which can erode tooth enamel and cause tartar, as well as reduce the risk of gingivitis, cavities and the likelihood of your gums becoming inflamed, sore and red.
‘Be sure to floss daily for optimum teeth and gum health, as well as for your overall wellbeing.’
British Heart Foundation (BHF) funded research found that those with moderate to severe gum disease had a 69 per cent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gum disease forms gaps inbetween teeth, which allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation.
This is a natural response to infection but when it goes on for too long it could damage your blood vessels, including those in your heart, and could lead to or worsen coronary heart disease, according to BHF.
One review of 14 studies, by a team at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, concluded those who had lost more teeth were 1.48-times more likely to suffer cognitive impairment and 1.28-times more at risk of dementia.
Researchers therefore concluded that flossing teeth may boost oral hygiene and lower the risk of tooth loss.
People who have gum disease and tooth loss are also at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those with good oral health.
Experts believe this may be down to the bacteria that infects the gums damaging the blood vessels, leading to tiny blood clots, or that inflammation in the gums triggers vascular damage throughout the body.
Dr Safa, founder and principle dentist at Serene in west London, said: ‘It is really important to do something to clean between your teeth because brushing alone just cleans about 40 per cent of your tooth structure.
‘The rest of it is found in between teeth. So you need to be removing plaque either with floss or interdental brushes or a power flosser.’
The NHS advises children to start flossing after the age of 12.