We all know the basics: twice a day, mouthwash, flossing etc. It all sounds really simple and straightforward, but how many of us really think about what we are doing when we clean our teeth?
It is recommended we spend 2 minutes, yes, a whole 120 seconds – 30 seconds for every quadrant – cleaning our pearly whites. Those 2 minutes, often feel throw away, “only 2 minutes” or “about 2 minutes”, like a suggestion rather than a specific amount of time. But those 2 minutes are key to making sure you’ve fully covered every area of your mouth.
Do you brush for 2 minutes? And how do you really know? The majority of people underestimate the time they brush their teeth for. And while we often feel nagged at, by our dentist, by our parents when we are younger, oral health is a major issue and has other health repercussions. You’re doing it anyway, what’s an extra minute or 30 seconds?
When we brush, our main goal is to keep our teeth healthy and hold on to them. But reducing the amount of bacteria in our mouth also has a knock on effect to the rest of the body.
A recent report produced in collaboration with Oral-B and leading researchers called ‘Oral and whole body health’ found "The link between oral health and the health of the rest of the body is a relatively new area of scientific enquiry and full conclusions have not yet been made however some studies have shown that blood sugar levels in diabetic sufferers with gum disease fell significantly when the disease was treated and connections have also been made between gum disease and heart disease."
It goes on to say "If this type of infection (inflammation) was found on another part a person’s body then it would quickly get seen to but unfortunately this isn’t the case for many when it comes to the mouth and bleeding, inflamed gums are often ignored. Bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream and migrates to other parts of the body."
Reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth reduces gum disease. Many people see blood and automatically stop brushing, when in fact they should do the reverse.
Cosmetic dental expert, Dr. Uchenna Okoye, says “Bacteria that builds up on teeth make gums prone to infection. The immune system moves in to attack the infection and the gums become inflamed. The result is severe gum disease, known as periodontitis. Inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body. Disease in the mouth is linked to heart disease as it is the same type of bacteria. Gum disease is linked to many systemic diseases e.g in men it is linked to impotence especially men under 30 years or over 70 years. Using an electric toothbrush is the most effective way of removing plaque bacteria. Mouthwash is great but for specific things ask your dentist to recommend it for an acute condition. I always recommend a fluoride mouthwash for daily use as the fluoride strengthens teeth which results in fewer cavities. Avoid frequent use of any mouthwashes with alcohol however.”
Brushing, whether manually or with an electric toothbrush, has to be focused. Concentrate on one quarter of the mouth for 30 seconds before moving on to the next area. Think of each tooth as an individual 3D object and clean each facet. Electric toothbrushes remove 100% more plaque than a manual and lots of electric toothbrushes have timers or displays which show the length of time or area you should be focusing on. Oral-B has a new system called Smart Guide and Philips Sonicare has Smartimer, which both focus on the 2 minutes.
TheChicGeek says “I’ve been using the Oral-B Triumph 5000a toothbrush with Smart Guide since before Christmas and it’s really made me think about how I clean my teeth. The Smart Guide can initially look like a childish gimmick, but it’s a useful display to put into practise everything we are being told. By simplifying how to concentrate on each of the four areas of the mouth and timing for 2 minutes, my teeth and mouth have never felt so clean. It's give focus to something which can be a little random, especially late at night when you're not really thinking about what you are doing.
Since using the toothbrush, I’ve had no sore throats or colds since last year and even though I have nothing scientific to prove this, I’m convinced it’s because my mouth has less bacteria in it. Add mouthwash and flossing, Men’s Health recently Tweeted - Gargling a minty mouthwash daily reduces your chance of colds and flu by up to 36%, you are reducing bacteria even further.
I wanted to research this article for this reason, as oral health must be connected to the rest of the body. It’s one of the main ways we get germs and viruses into the body. Since dedicating a strict 2 minutes to brushing - which is rewarded with a smiley face on the Smart Guide! - I feel less prone and susceptible to illness.
This isn’t a hard sell to buy an expensive, razzle-dazzle toothbrush, you could easily use the seconds hand on your watch, what is does do is make it easy and that’s one of the main things we need in our busy lives. We all brush our teeth for cosmetic reasons: to hold onto them and keep them in good shape, but if a side effect is overall better health and being less prone to colds, flu and sore throats then those 2 minutes become even more worthwhile.”
Above Right - Oral-B Triumph 5000a - £179.99
Above - Philips Sonicare FlexCare+ - £204.26