It is drummed into us from an early age that we should brush our teeth twice daily.
But a study by the Oral Health Foundation reveals one in four adults do not, and three quarters have visible plaque on their teeth.
Even if we do look after our teeth, how do we know we’re doing it right?
Claire Dunwell looks at the facts.
We should floss everyday: MYTH
Public Health England says there is no strong evidence to prove flossing is better for oral well-being than simply brushing with toothpaste. And flossing incorrectly can damage gums.
The British Dental Association recommends using an inter-dental brush small enough to clean in the smallest gaps.
Red wine is bad for teeth: MYTH
A study found polyphenols in red wine fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth and can stop plaque sticking.
Over-brushing gums can wear them away: TRUE
It is vital we care for our gums – and a study in Helsinki found a clear link between gum disease and deaths from cancer. But be careful.
Brushing too hard will expose the roots, upping the risk of gum disease from plaque bacteria. A rinse with warm, salty water ten minutes after eating is a good way to keep gums healthy.
Stress can cause gum disease: TRUE
Bacteria thrives with stress and researchers in Canada found people with higher levels of depression and the “stress hormone” cortisol were more prone to gum disease.
Grinding our teeth and jaw-clenching can chip and flatten teeth. Stress can also make us forget oral care.
Electric toothbrushes are the best: TRUE
Brushing teeth properly is key. Studies found electric brushes removed 21 per cent more plaque than manual brushing.
They are designed to massage teeth and gums correctly, preventing decay and inflammation.
But don’t get carried away. Too much brushing can damage enamel, the teeth’s protective outer shell.
Bleeding gums are nothing to worry about: MYTH
Bleeding gums are the first sign of gingivitis – gum disease. If you see blood when you brush, it is time to see a dentist.
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