Oral hygiene routine ‘can be improved’

Less than half of all adults have an acceptable oral hygiene routine.

That’s according to dental health experts.

Figures from the Adult Dental Health Survey reveal that common dental products such as mouthwash and dental floss aren’t being used as part of an all-round routine, with just 31% of people using mouthwash and just 22% using floss.

The same data also showed 42% of adults only use a toothbrush and toothpaste, with only 27% saying they use an electric brush.

It also showed how one in four adults (24%) does not use a toothpaste with the recommended level of fluoride.

The data could be a significant indicator as to why two in every three adults have visible plaque, and also why one in three children will start school with obvious dental decay.

British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, explained just how valuable dental products can be.

Dr Carter said: ‘When you look at the figures presented, it is abundantly clear why so many people have oral health problems.

‘Fluoride is the single-most important advancement introduced in preventative dentistry for some years. It can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce, and the Foundation encourages all adults to introduce it to their own and their child’s oral health routine.

‘Using interdental brushes, floss, or tape at least once a day will help to remove plaque and debris from between the teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach.

‘Brushing alone will only clean around 60 per cent of the tooth surface, so it is important to remember there are products available to help you establish and develop a good oral health routine.

‘Using a mouthwash containing an anti-bacterial ingredient can help reduce plaque and prevent gum disease. Mouthwashes may also contain fluoride to help prevent decay and will help to wash away particles of food.’

To make matters worse, brushing habits also leave a lot to be desired. The average time spent brushing is just 45 seconds, while a quarter of adults skip brushing at least once a day.

Dr Carter added: ‘One of the Foundation’s three key messages is to brush for two minutes twice a day, and it appears even this most basic of messages isn’t being adhered to.

‘With so few following this message, adults should be giving serious consideration to using an electric toothbrush. Rigorous tests have proven those with small round oscillating rotating heads to be up to twice as effective at removing plaque than a manual brush. Many also have two-minute timers to ensure you clean for the recommended period of time. Although this step alone would not lead to a good routine, it is a step in the right direction.

‘Not enough people know dental disease is almost entirely preventable. By investing time in a good oral health routine both morning and night, your oral health can and will improve.’

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