/ 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?

Comments
Member

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 .

Member

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

Member
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.

Member

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

Member

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?

Member

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.

Member

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?

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

Member

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).

Member
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.”
i.imgur.com/k5QBzGg.jpg

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 myself to advertise though by mentioning them. : )

On a more scientific bent and with a nod to parents who might be interested this Indian study:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22918099/

Member

Exactly diesel ! and you could throw in the “wages” paid to those working in the fields and at the bottom end of this industry.

Member
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 on tooth decay grounds.

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

One wonders if the surveys are biased by not including alternatives like chewing gum formulated for oral health. I cannot bring myself to advertise though by mentioning them. : )

On a more scientific bent and with a nod to parents who might be interested this Indian study:
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22918099/

Member

The Sugar Association (USA) promotes the use of sugar, and says about tooth decay “February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, making it a good time for a reminder about the importance of regular cleaning, flossing and that all-important visit to the dentist for preventing cavities.”

“Dentists also recommend limiting the amount of time sweet or sticky foods stay on your teeth. The reason for this is relatively straightforward and science based: bacteria in the mouth breaks down carbohydrates –- both starches and sugars – resulting in acids that can pull minerals from tooth enamel and cause decay. The longer carbohydrates stay on your teeth, the more time bacteria has to play.”

Presumably you should, therefore, only drink or eat sugary stuff just before you clean your teeth – so first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening.

A search under “tooth decay” on British Sugar’s and the British Soft Drink’s Assocaitons websites produced ……0 results.

Member

The Sugar Association is a trade body that exists to support its members, mainly companies involved in the sugar industry. Trade bodies often convey mis-information to the public.

From the SA website: “The simple, irrefutable fact is this: Sugar is a healthy part of a diet. ”
I would suggest that it would better to say that: “There is no health benefit in adding sugar to food.”

Member

All three are in the trade. I’d suggest they only pass on information positive to their industry. This is the norm in (almost?) any form of marketing. Would you expect the negatives of their products to be stated by manufacturers and trade associations? That, I suggest, is for others, like Which? to address.

Member

The others malcolm being the NHS or the WHO who have shown that if you have a preponderance to Cancer taking excess sugar feeds the tumor ( actual scientific tests proved it )

Member

So right wavechange ,it is a fallacy to think bodies related to commercial companies supplying the public work “for the good of the public ” . like the Tobacconists Association of America and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (of the UK) etc the American companies lied their heads off while millions died of lung cancer , fought it for decades to suppress the truth with dodgy ( highly paid ) medical professionals to say it was “safe ” . I lived through all that era and I remember all the denials and the eventual expose of the industry as well as the multi millions in compensation paid out to smokers or more of the case their relatives who survived their death, of various tobacco big names in the US . It was a case of being taken to court kicking and screaming their denials . Check out who has big shares (or had ) of tobacco in the UK.

Member

duncan, I am against “excess sugar” as I imagine you realise. I believe a healthy, balanced and enjoyable diet is good for me. I confess to putting a little caster sugar and cream on strawberries. The issue about sugar feeding tumours does not go undisputed in scientific circles, however.

Apparently an Italian cheese reduces blood pressure. I’m on pills but perhaps I should be seeking this alternative.

Member

Duncan – I have nothing but contempt for trade associations with websites that set out to deceive the general public. Even though I have never smoked in my life the portfolio of my pension fund invests in two tobacco companies and Monsanto. 🙁

As Malcolm says, the claimed link between eating sugars and cancer questionable. Even if you don’t eat any sugar or even carbohydrates, your body produces sugar.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
15 May 2016

wavechange mentioned trade associations and dubiousness.

You may all find this interesting as it is a firm who appears to have a tame lab university lab and pays huge amounts to two doctors:
articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/22/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20130224

and if you are wondering what is happening in 2016 here is an up-date
slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2016/05/the_government_is_finally_closing_in_on_herbalife_herbalife_will_fight_back.html

Member

The supplement industry seems to have a fair number of rogue scientists, unfortunately.

Member

There are, regrettably, rogue individuals and organisations in all walks of life. Human nature. As consumers we tend to speak up about the bad, but not say much when things are OK – because that is what we expect. We should, therefore, not get depressed by the bad things in life; I believe they are far exceeded by the acceptable and the good. Just need to keep an inquiring mind and use your common sense.

Member

I’m not depressed, Malcolm, but neither do I condone what the Sugar Association has on its website.

Member

As I have a low opinion of the need for and promotion of dental whitening, I am not inclined to take too seriously a ‘survey’ carried out by a so-called “dental whitening company”. Given the amount of toothpastes and other oral hygiene products on sale in supermarkets, household stores and chemists, and the apparent busy trade in such lines whenever I am in that area, I regard the statistic that 40% of people don’t clean their teeth every day with some scepticism. It would have been good if the research explored the reason for this state of affairs, and whether or not twice every other day was an alternative practice, or whether use of mouthwash was considered to be sufficient, or whether it was a question of cost, disbelief in the necessity, family habit, or any other possible explanation [e.g. they might have full dentures which they soak overnight!].

My preference is for the simplest plainest form of Colgate or Aquafresh with fluoride, whichever is on offer at the time. This has served me well over the years and I don’t generally consider any alternatives. Purely out of general interest I do look at the range of brands and various stated properties of the varieties on offer and wonder how efficacious they are at their claimed speciality. It’s interesting that you cannot seem to get one toothpaste that offers max total advanced complete deep cleaning, extra plaque control, pro-gum health, sensitivity, cavity protection, and cool fresh breath, with mint flavour and stripes, plus a little whitening as a bonus.

Member

The scientific jury still seems to be out in determining whether teeth should be cleaned before or after eating. Curiosity once again got the better of me so I felt obligated to find out the logic behind brushing teeth before rather than after meals.

Toothpaste research focuses on enamel abrasion/erosion and toothbrush research looks at plaque removal. Based on their findings it makes more sense to brush before eating. That way plaque is removed before ingesting sugars and if acidic foods and beverages are ingested, we avoid compounding the erosion with toothpaste abrasion.

Plaque bacteria produce acid right away. According to research “acid production occurs within seconds of bacteria’s exposure to sucrose and salivary PH drops from a neutral of 7 to acidic 4.5 within just 5 minutes. It then takes 30 minutes to return to 7, so waiting until the meal is over to brush allows the bacteria ample time to produce acid.”

“Acid drinks increases the susceptibility of enamel to toothpaste abrasion. The acid softens the tooth surface. Dentine is even more susceptible to erosion from acid drinks and toothpaste abrasion. Even brushing without toothpaste after ingesting orange juice resulted in loss of enamel and dentine.”

Brushing at the end of the day, before bedtime however, still seems to be the most important time and is favoured by most researchers and the less abrasive the toothpaste the better. Personally I have always brushed twice a day after breakfast and before retiring to bed with an ordinary toothbrush, plus interdental brushes for between my teeth, and will probably continue to do so.

Member

After eating sweet food you may detect a slightly bitter taste. This is because oral bacteria ferment sugars to produce lactic acid and other organic acids, lowering the pH as Beryl has mentioned.

I am not a creature of habit so sometimes my teeth are cleaned before meals and other times after.

Member

Brushing teeth removes dental plaque, a near-invisible soft material that accumulates around the gum margin and between teeth. Normal chewing keeps most of the tooth surface free from plaque. If not removed, plaque will calcify to produce tartar, a harder material that will not be removed by brushing, which is why dentists offer to scale and polish your teeth. Careful brushing should remove plaque and if your dentist is having to scrape off tartar you definitely need to improve your technique. Interdental brushes help and anyone with uneven teeth may find it more difficult to remove plaque. Brushing teeth to remove plaque also helps keep gums in good condition.

Plaque is an example of a biofilm and is a gel produced by bacteria in which other acid-producing bacteria can grow, using sugars in food and drink. The acid produced is held in close proximity with the tooth enamel and any exposed root – which is more subject to decay.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
15 May 2016

Very clear wavechange. I have always to fight the urge to abbreviate your name …

15/5/16

Member

Apparently people are more reluctant to clean their teeth before a meal because the toothpaste tends to spoil the taste of their food.

Member

Yes Beryl and the lack of teeth due to rot spoils their smile.

Member

Very funny. I believe the strong mint taste of toothpaste is there to conceal the unpleasant taste of food festering between the teeth and on toothbrushes. I believe Beryl’s old household hints have covered the traditional ways of cleaning teeth.

Member

From what I see when out and about, tooth decay is a serious problem in Norfolk, and people won’t have missing teeth replaced either. Access to, and the cost of, dentistry must be major factors. I think younger generations are taking better care of their teeth than the 50+ age groups.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
18 May 2016

18/5/16 Where is our survey link please?

Member
jo ko says:
20 May 2016

I clean my teeth every 2 months whether they need it ir not

Member

And you have the one tooth nicely polished in an instant .