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Brits are slacking on their oral health due to the impact of the pandemic, new research reveals.
One in five confess they only brush their teeth once a day instead of the recommended twice, while more than a quarter never pick up a floss pick.
Three in 10 let their oral hygiene slip during different periods of Britain's lockdowns, the survey of 2,000 adults shows.
However, three-quarters of these respondents are confident they'll return to healthier dental hygiene habits soon, with 26% pinpointing a lack of routine as the reason for forgetting to brush as regularly as is needed.
Some 28% expressed they had other health-related issues on their mind, meaning oral health was not at the top of their priority list.
Nearly a quarter have not visited a dentist in the last year, while one in 20 wouldn't normally change their toothbrush more often than every six months.
Dr Alex George, working with Colgate Total for its #HappyHabits campaign, said, "Your mouth is a gateway to your overall health.
"Issues such as gum problems have been linked 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."
Almost three in ten respondents (28%) didn't know that poor oral conditions can even lead to other health complications, the study conducted via OnePoll also found.
After learning this information, a quarter of the adults surveyed said they would stop seeing oral maintenance as a 'chore', and more as an important step in their overall healthcare routine.
On average, Brits report they brush their teeth for 93 seconds each time, while a fifth don't last a whole minute with a toothbrush in their hands.
These findings follow a survey of 45 dentists by Colgate Total, as part of its Dentist Advisory Network, in which 82% claimed their patients' oral health worsened during the pandemic.
All dentists polled reported they had seen an increase in common oral health issues in all areas, including toothache, tooth abscess, sensitivity, severe plaque build-up, gum disease and tooth decay.
London-based dentist Dr Monik Vasant said, "The social factors surrounding the pandemic, such as lockdown and home-working, have led to a decline in many people's oral health.
"People don't realise 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 Monik Vasant is urging people to get their oral health back on track by "simply brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, change your brush or brush head every three months, and clean in between your teeth".
"Also, use a fluoride toothpaste with antibacterial ingredients that looks after the whole mouth, not just the teeth," he added.
"A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth, and growing understanding about this is essential to encourage a return to better oral hygiene routines.
"Good oral health begins at home, not in the dentist's chair."
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