This is how you should really brush your teeth

The short answer is about 1,896 hours in a lifetime

Tom Embury-Dennis
Thursday 29 September 2016 12:48 BST
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay

It’s probably the most boring chore on Earth, yet something nearly everyone does at least once a day.

But how often and for how long should we really be brushing our teeth?

The short answer is about 1,896 hours in a lifetime, but according to a study the reality is people are brushing for about half that time.

Advice on the best way to brush teeth is often confusing and inconsistent, so habits are wildly varied from person to person.

But we asked Dr Payal Sharma Birch, dentist at Smile Impressions, to give the Independent her recommendations.

“Two minutes at least is ideal, 30 seconds for each quarter of the mouth,” she said. “And at least twice a day.

“Before bed is most important as we have reduced saliva flow when we are asleep. Saliva would usually help naturally buffer the acids in the mouth.

“Your dentist or hygienist may advise more depending on the state of your gums.”

The toothpaste to use should contain fluoride to “strengthen the teeth against the ravages of dental decay.”

And to the age-old question as to whether floss is a waste of time or not, the answer is it depends.

“Evidence supports the use of small interdental brushes for cleaning between the teeth where there’s space to do so,” Dr Payal says.

“Floss is not a waste of time if it’s a viable alternative to interdental brushing.

“But floss is of little value unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight for brushes to fit without hurting or causing harm.”

The risks of not cleaning your teeth are terrifying and varied, from discolouring and bad breath to tooth decay, gum and periodontal disease (rotting of the bone).

Dr Richard Marques, one of the UK’s leading dentists, told The Independent when we should be cleaning our teeth.

"You should wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush the teeth, otherwise the acid can damage the tooth surface," he said.

"Brushing before bed is really important, as otherwise the food can sit against the surface of the teeth and cause them to decay overnight."

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