Does your toothbrush only do half the job?

A new study into the UK’s tooth brushing habits reveals a disturbing trend of poor oral hygiene habits that are a major contributor to the pressure on NHS budgets.

Each week, more than 1 million patients in the UK use NHS dental services, many of them seeking treatment for dental disease, the consequences of which costs the NHS £3.4 billion a year.

The new study found that 48 per cent of UK adults admit that they ‘orphan’ at least a quarter of the teeth in their mouth by consistently missing them when they brush.

Tooth brushing efficiency is even lower among the millennial generation (aged 18-34) where less than a third (29 per cent) reaches all of their teeth each time they brush, compared with 55 per cent for those aged 55 and over.

In another worrying flag for the UK’s oral health, the study also found that 61 per cent of adults have never been shown how to brush their teeth correctly by a dentist or hygienist. This fact could explain why a quarter of UK adults say that someone in their household has had dental treatment in the last two years for problems they think could have been prevented by better tooth brushing and oral hygiene.

Problems like those highlighted by the report were one of the reasons why dentist Dr Dev Patel invented Brushlink, a dental coaching device and app in 2015. The device is the first that can track and coach people on brushing frequency, duration and angles while making this data available to dentists if consented, and it works with manual and electric toothbrushes.

Professor Elizabeth Kay MBE, a dean at the University of Plymouth, an oral health topic expert for NICE, and a Brushlink scientific committee member, said: “This survey has revealed some intriguing insights into our oral health regimes and patients’ relationships with the dental health professionals who care for them.

“There is no substitute for good tooth brushing practices when it comes to maintaining a healthy mouth, yet it would appear from the survey that there is a lot more that we can all do to achieve this effectively.”

Visit the NHS Choices website for more information on cleaning your teeth and oral health.