According to a survey from YouGov published last year, over a quarter of Brits (27%) only brush their teeth once a day and 2% of us never brush our teeth.
This is quite alarming considering the importance of dental health and, uh, not having smelly breath – but also because new research has found that brushing your teeth does more than just keep your mouth clean.
Rupak Datta, is an assistant professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) and in a recent journal, he discussed the link between daily toothbrushing as a strategy for preventing hospital-acquired pneumonia.
The links between oral health and infectious diseases
Speaking to Futurity, Datta said, “patients with poor oral hygiene are predisposed to invasive infections, like bloodstream infections and endocarditis. As an infectious diseases fellow, I learned that periodontal disease is a critical risk factor for infection.“
He added, “Toothbrushing removes dental plaques, or biofilms, where microorganisms are prevalent. When dental plaques accumulate, bacteria can invade the oral cavity, respiratory tract, bloodstream, and even heart valves, or elsewhere.”
“Mechanisms of reducing that biofilm, such as toothbrushing, have been shown to be effective in reducing infection.”
He also said that we need to think of tooth brushing the same way that we think about washing hands, “both are critical infection prevention measures.”
How to keep your teeth clean
According to the NHS, we should brush our teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and one of these should be last thing before we go to bed.
Make sure that you clean all the surfaces of your teeth, which should take around two minutes and remember to brush the inside surfaces, outside surfaces and the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
Go for regular checkups with your dentist to get personalised advice.