A damning report has revealed more than half of Australians are only brushing their teeth once a day – but even if you are brushing twice daily, it’s likely you’re doing it wrong.
About 51 per cent of adults and one-third of kids are skipping brushing their teeth in either the morning or evening, according to the Oral Health Tracker report.
The report said this trend was putting more than oral health at risk. It warned poor dental health during childhood led to problems later in life including an increased risk of heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes.
Nine in 10 Australians experience tooth decay, one in five have gum disease and 15 per cent have fewer than 21 teeth (an adult with a full set of pearly whites has 32 teeth), the report revealed.
How to brush your teeth – correctly
Australian Dental Association president Dr Hugo Sachs said it was unhealthy to skip a brushing session, and that failing to brush altogether was the worst-case scenario.
At the other end of the scale, he outlined how to brush your teeth for the best results.
“First, floss at least once a day – preferably at night. Then rinse your mouth out with water before brushing,” Dr Sachs told The New Daily.
“Use a soft, electric toothbrush with a rotating head – an electric toothbrush is much better than a manual one. Brush with a circular-motion technique using fluoridated toothpaste.”
Dr Sachs said to brush for at least two minutes and not to press too hard with the brush.
“You should only be using a toothbrush head for three months before replacing it with a new one,” he said.
Spit out any excess toothpaste, but do not rinse your mouth of toothpaste after brushing.
“If you let some of the toothpaste sit on your teeth, it will do a far better job at re-mineralising your teeth, especially overnight.
“You’ll go to bed with a nice, fresh toothpaste taste in your mouth.”
Dr Sachs said mouthwash was unnecessary in most circumstances, with the exception of disabilities, fractured jaws or short-term use after oral surgery.
Another tip to keep in mind is to delay brushing for a couple of hours after consuming food or drinks with high acidity levels, such as wine, he said.
These acids soften the teeth and brushing too soon afterwards can cause abrasion.
Dr Sachs advised brushing both in the morning and at night, but brushing more than twice a day would not cause any damage – if anything, it would increase the chances of removing plaque throughout the day.
The worst teeth brushing session to skip
Dr Sachs blamed Australia’s poor dental health on increased intake of food and drinks with high levels of sugar, with more than 70 per cent of Australians consuming excess sugar in their diet.
“Only 68 per cent of children aged five to 14 brush their teeth twice a day, and it’s intriguing that figure drops off to 51 per cent as they grow into adulthood,” he told The New Daily.
“Good teeth health involves keeping a healthy diet and minimising sugar intake.
“With Easter coming up, it’s better to let the kids go wild feasting on chocolate on Easter Sunday than to let them continue snacking for days or even weeks afterwards. It’s the repeated snacking behaviour that’s the main concern for teeth decay.
“A dozen snacks means a dozen acid hits which can cause demineralisation of your teeth.”
Dr Sachs said it was best to brush both at night and in the morning, with the worst teeth brushing session to miss being the one before bed.
“Our flow of saliva – which naturally dissolves sugars – drops at night. Bacteria [plaque] that has built up on our teeth throughout the day can sit in your mouth overnight and decay rates can increase,” he said.
“Bad morning breath is produced by a concentration of those plaques in your teeth, so it’s a good indication you’ve probably got gum disease.
“Another sign to watch out for is if you notice some blood when you spit out the toothpaste after brushing. If you’re concerned about gum disease, it’s best to book in a visit to your local dentist for a check-up.”