/ Health

Please tell me you clean your teeth every day

Four in 10 people don’t brush their teeth every day, research suggests. I’ve always thought of brushing as essential. Dull? Yes, but necessary. Was I wrong all along?

I’ve always tried to make the most of those tiresome two-minute bursts at the bathroom sink. I’ve planned holidays, thought through fantasy arguments with inconsiderate fellow commuters and hummed along to any and all songs by Adele as I hoovered around the teeth and gums with my Best Buy toothbrush. But maybe I didn’t need to be at the sink at all?

Certainly that seems to be the view of many of the 2,000 people questioned by dental whitening company, White Glo, who cheerfully admitted they don’t wield a brush every day.

This was a very fleeting thought, as the obvious (and only) answer is, of course, no. You’re under no legal obligation to brush your teeth at least once a day, but failure to do so increases your chances of gingivitis, rotten teeth and presumably losing a few friends. Which nobody wants.

Brush up your technique

My parents used to insist that I brushed my teeth every morning and night. It’s hardly my favourite childhood memory but the annoying thing is …they were right.

Regular and thorough brushing is the best way to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Left untouched, plaque on your teeth builds up and can cause gum inflammation which, over time, can lead to loss of gum tissue. We go through the perfect brushing technique on our how to brush with an electric toothbrush advice guide.

Is an electric toothbrush for you?

OK, am I starting to sound like a bit of a zealot or that character in the TV series The West Wing who admitted he was ‘nuts for dental hygiene’? Well, I might be about to make it worse.

After years of scrubbing away with a bog-standard regular toothbrush, I’ve surrendered and got a Best Buy electric one and, like a reformed smoker, I swear I will never go back to my old ways.

I know electric toothbrushes aren’t essential. I know they’re more expensive to buy and you’ll have to think about buying replacement brush heads. And I know you can get a great clean with a regular brush.

But I find that electric brushes require less effort and have been shown to remove more plaque over time. When I had a regular toothbrush, I’d erroneously convince myself into thinking I’d done thorough-enough cleaning. But many electric toothbrushes come with two-minute timers, which has encouraged me into a healthier dental regime.

Choosing whether to ditch the regular and buy an electric toothbrush, or stick to what you know, is obviously a personal choice. But surely brushing at least once a day isn’t too much to ask?


Now this is something that has been part of my life since childhood . I started off with Gibbs toothpaste in hardened form in a round tin and went on to use euthymol toothpaste , you know the one few people like because of its clinical taste . But it doesnt shoot out a load of white gunk but a reddish pink stuff in a narrower amount . I “religiously ” brush my teeth every day as a result I dont have dentures , some teeth missing at the back but all the front ones okay and at my age thats not bad and its all down to regular brushing and not eating loads of chocolate .


I well remember Gibbs Dentifrice in a round tin, and the routine of brushing my teeth twice a day when I was a child.

dieseltaylor says:
15 May 2016

We appear to have no link to the survey on which this Conversation is based.

Many times on Conversations it has been observed that surveys can be biased or simply media filler items put up by commercial companies to get their name in the media. Whilst of course for Which? it is a opportunity to mention toothbrush tests which readers can access by becoming a subscriber.

As it is a public health issue perhaps Which? could/should provide that information for free.

And please , if Which? is going to quote a survey , please provide some link.


I agree that Which? should make all public health information available free of charge.


But we cannot ask Which? to do everything. It does not have the money or the resources. Let it concentrate on what it was set up to do, and do it well.

Perhaps we should restore Public Information Films on the BBC,Independent TV and Sky as compulsory free broadcasts as part of their broadcast licence requirements – John Whittingdale might address this?


Dieseltaylor is – I believe – suggesting that articles relating to public health are freely available rather than restricted to subscribers. I don’t care what Which? was set up for but I sincerely hope that most subscribers would support making the information publicly available.


Whoops, just spotted this. I’ve added a link to our online news story which has a bit more information about the story. This survey started a little discussion in the office with shock that people don’t brush their teeth once a day. Whether there’s any tooth to the survey is another question… but we want to bring it to you for debate. And I think Oli wrote a great piece 😀

Some info on the survey: White Glo’s research was conducted on 2,000 adults by Vital Statistics using an online consumer panel between 21st and 25th April 2016.

Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/05/40-dont-use-a-toothbrush-at-least-once-a-day-441471/ – Which?



It is easier to persuade people what you say is fact if you mention it is based on a “survey”, as if just by its name that proves everything. We have asked before on what basis surveys are done. You need to have adequate background information to give a considered answer to a question, the question must not lead on to a particular answer, the respondents must be truly representative, and even then there is doubt. The general election polls showed just how unreliable surveys can be. So we should perhaps have a “Campaign” against the misuse of “surveys”.

I wonder which brand of toothpaste all those surveyed found best? I surveyed my household (all 2 people, so totally representative) and 100% voted for Colgate Cavity Protection Caries used on a Oral B electric toothbrush upon rising and retiring. Not McLeans (sorry Oliver – no relation I’m sure).

dieseltaylor says:
15 May 2016

It is a shame that the article does not also cover if the reduction of sugar or the lack of sugary intake revealed that dental problems were far less likely and reduced the need to brush frequently. SO to add balance:

” If you don’t want tooth decay, you should seriously cut back on the sugar. According to new research published in the journal BMC Public Health, sugars are the only cause of tooth decay in kids and adults.
Researchers from University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine looked at public health records from around the world and found that in the U.S. especially, tooth decay–which is one of the most common non-infectious diseases in the world–from sugar was far too high. About 60 to 90% of school-age children and 92% of adults in the U.S. have experienced tooth decay. “Only 2% of people at all ages living in Nigeria had tooth decay when their diet contained almost no sugar, around 2g per day. This is in stark contrast to the USA, where 92% of adults have experienced tooth decay,” study author Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of Dental Public Health at University College London, said in a statement.” 2014

And back to toothbrushing
“In a poll of 562 people around the world (including 332 Americans), 49% of men and 57% of women said they brush their teeth only once a day on average, while 44% of men and 37% of women said they were twice-daily brushers. Reddit user anthonyd3ca conducted the survey, which breaks down the demographics of people surveyed here.”

Of course this survey is as good as any other where people volunteer to answer but I am guessing the Reddit user has no commercial interest in the outcome. One wonders if the surveys are biased by not including alternatives like chewing gum formulated for oral health. I cannot bring mysel