People are brushing their teeth less during the COVID pandemic, survey reveals

NEW YORK — Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, but a recent survey finds that during the coronavirus pandemic, one in five people are letting their oral hygiene slide. The poll of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom finds these individuals are brushing just once a day. More than a quarter admit to not flossing at all.

“Your mouth is a gateway to your overall health,” says Dr. Alex George, who is working with Colgate Total for the #HappyHabits campaign, in a statement. “It has linked issues such as gum problems with health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and even dementia, which is why it’s so important to include looking after your mouth as part of a wider health routine.”

The OnePoll survey found that 22 percent of Brits admit to going at least three days without brushing their teeth! More than a quarter (28%) add they did not think that poor oral health could create wider health complications.

Nearly a quarter of respondents did not visit the dentist in 2021. One in 20 admit they only change their toothbrush every six months. When asked about their reasons for the lack of oral hygiene, 36 percent say it was because they just forgot to brush. However, another 28 percent say it was because they had other health issues on their mind, so oral hygiene was not a priority.

A new focus on dental health in 2022?

After learning about the results, one-fourth of adults polled in the survey claimed they would stop seeing oral maintenance as a chore and rather a step towards taking care of their overall health.

A separate survey of dentists revealed that 82 percent saw a drop-off in their patients’ oral health during the pandemic. Toothache and severe plaque build-up were two common oral health complications.

“The social factors surrounding the pandemic such as lockdown and homeworking have led to a decline in many people’s oral health,” says Monk Vasant, a dentist in London. “People don’t realize that not brushing your teeth twice a day, even just for two weeks, can result in a build-up in plaque that can have a lasting impact and we’re seeing this play out with the increase of patients presenting with gum disease and tooth decay.”

Dr. Vasant recommends brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and changing your brush every three months. Using fluoride toothpaste with antibacterial ingredients that affect the whole mouth, not just the teeth, would also benefit oral hygiene routines.

“Good oral health begins at home, not in the dentist’s chair.”

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About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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