ONE-IN-FOUR (26%) British adults regularly brush their teeth only once a day, according to findings of a new nationwide poll.

The data has been collected by the Oral Health Foundation and sheds concerns about the number of people willing to skip twice-daily brushing.

The charity is especially worried by the number of people who regularly fail to brush their teeth last thing at night, when the health of the mouth is most likely to deteriorate.  Insights from the research show that one-in-four (25%) do not brush their teeth in the evening before they go to bed.

Latest figures show two-in-three (66%) UK adults have visible plaque, almost one-in-three (31%) have signs of tooth decay, and three-in-four (74%) have had teeth extracted.

The examination into Britain’s brushing habits is part of National Smile Month, a campaign by the Oral Health Foundation that aims to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy mouth.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the charity, highlights the importance of twice daily brushing and believes now is the perfect time for the UK to reassess its oral health habits.

Dr Carter says: “Twice-daily toothbrushing is the cornerstone to having good oral health because it removes plaque.  If plaque is not removed and is allowed to build up, it can cause conditions like tooth decay and gum disease.

“Brushing only once a day can increase the chances of developing tooth decay by up to a third, so setting aside time for the second brush is really important.” 

Elaine Tilling, dental hygienist and the clinical education manager for TePe Oral Hygiene Products, says: “Apart from stale bedtime breath, failing to brush before bed will also lead to poorer oral health.

“During sleep we lose the function of saliva, the mouth’s protection against tooth decay.  The night-time brush removes the daily build-up of plaque and food debris from the surface of the teeth and gums and helps to ensure that whilst the mouth is at rest, the damage potential from plaque bacteria is removed.”

Further findings from the charity’s research show that toothbrush skipping is more common in adults under 35s (31%), while men are less likely to brush their teeth twice-daily compared to women.

It also suggests that as many as one million UK adults fail to brush their teeth once a day.

The investigation also revealed that most of the population (70%) brush at least twice a day, however, one-in-ten (10%) have no set routine.

“Habits need routine to help them form and toothbrushing is no different,” adds Mrs Tilling, who believes creating a fixed routine it essential for forming healthy habits.

She says: “Brushing before bed is arguably the most important time to remove plaque and night-time is generally when we have the most time for ourselves.  Ensuring brushing and interdental cleaning before bed is crucial for good oral health.”

National Smile Month takes place until 17 June and champions the benefits of a healthy smile.  The initiative is being supported by some of the UK’s most well-known household brands, including Invisalign, LISTERINE®, Oral-B, Corsodyl, Sensodyne, TePe, Philips and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme.

Throughout National Smile Month, the Oral Health Foundation and its partners are looking to support the nation in taking steps to improve their oral health.

“A healthy smile can be achieved at home with a simple and easy daily routine,” Dr Carter says.

“The most important action you can take is to brush your teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.  It also means cleaning between your teeth every day with interdental brushes or floss and also cutting down how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

“Dental disease is largely preventable. Following these steps will set you up on the path for a lifetime of good oral health.”

For more information about our National Smile Month campaign and how you can achieve better oral health head to www.smilemonth.org. Alternatively, if you would like to receive oral health information and advice over the phone then call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.