I recently received an email about dental care and tooth brushing, and as a result I have taken a solemn vow, never to let my toothbrush live and breathe (literally if the email is to be believed) for an excess of 3 months.

Apparently, even if we have a cold or flu or even just a sore throat, we should immediately replace our toothbrush. Bacteria can lurk – unseen – between bristles for months. And whether it can reinfect you or not – as Colgate claim – it’s incredibly unhygienic.

I have Colgate’s new electric toothbrush which I absolutely love – but I sadly left it three weeks ago at my friend India’s. I’ve also had a problem when travelling away to find socket points – so I always carry a manual toothbrush as well.

Flossing is for me, a number 1 priority. My hygienist told me, the last time that I saw her, that she can tell by the quickest glance at someones teeth whether they floss every day, a little, or never. She said to treat the process with as much respect and diligence as brushing!

If you have no problem with your teeth, try and see the hygienist every 6  months, and the dentist once a year. That is the very minimum that they deserve!


Here are some statistics from the email – Colgate call them ‘fun’ facts – some of them are actually very funny – especially the tooth loss for every child a woman has!

And it may be a comfort for those who do like their teeth to know that 94% of people say that the very first thing they notice is someone’s smile, and not their eyes or body shape….!

Bleeding gums are one of the first and most common symptoms of gum disease? 42% of the UK and 50% of Londoners believe that when their gums bleed it is a sign that they are brushing too hard. On the contrary, it’s a sign that you’re not getting teeth and gums clean enough, even the smallest amount of bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth could mean you have gum disease

Know how to spot gum disease? Typical warning signs including gum bleeding, swelling, inflammation, redness and recession

67% of you either agreed or weren’t sure whether brushing too much can wear away the enamel. We can confirm that there is in fact some truth in this, although only if you’re brushing incorrectly. Brushing too much, too hard or with a hard-bristle brush can, over time, erode your enamel. It’s also important to use an effective brushing technique to help ensure you are cleaning your teeth properly

Top Tip: To brush your teeth, you should use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach back teeth, and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration. Proper brushing takes at least two minutes

17% of you thought that for every child you have you lose a tooth. Many believe that during pregnancy the baby depletes the mother’s mineral supplies and makes the mother more susceptible to weakened and damaged teeth. This is a myth and is simply not the case. Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease, however, and to minimise the effects of pregnancy gingivitis they should practice good oral hygiene. (I find it hard to believe nearly a fifth of people thought that a tooth would drop out for every child – that would be extremely unfortunate!! Great to hear that it is not the case!!)

Your diet also has an impact on your oral health. Eating lots of calcium rich foods such as cheese and milk and avoiding snacking on sugary foods between meals can help to keep teeth strong. (It’s always nice, and unusual, to be told to eat cheese – I for one need no encouragement!!)

37% from across the UK, 53% of those surveyed from Wales and 48% from the South West believe that rubbing teeth with strawberries whitens them… It would be nice to think that this is the case. There is some truth in this due to the fact that strawberries contain a natural fruit acid called muric acid, which can remove some surface stains, but it’s a very temporary effect. For longer term solutions, use a daily whitening toothpaste. (The poor Welsh being specifically mentioned!)

Ever thought flossing is bad for your teeth because it makes your gums bleed? 16% of you agreed. Rather than causing the problem, if your gums bleed when you floss, it merely alerts us to the existing problem. In fact regular flossing helps protect your teeth and gums by allowing the removal of plaque and food particles in the spaces between the teeth and gums in places where a toothbrush can’t easily reach, helping to prevent gum problems.

When should you brush your teeth, before or after an acid meal? Well, 73% of you believe that brushing directly after an acidic meal will reduce damage from enamel erosion, when really it’s best to wait 30 to 60 minutes after eating acidic foods because the acid weakens your enamel and if you brush straight afterwards you may be further weakening it. Consider using fluoride mouthwash after acidic foods/drinks then brushing 45 minutes later.

31% of men surveyed believe that rubbing your teeth with salt is better than toothpaste. Simply put, they’re wrong. The Department of Health guidelines recommend we brush our teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a key ingredient to help strengthen and protect the teeth from decay. While salt does contain natural antiseptic properties, it is no substitute.

Did you know… Receding gums are caused by gum disease and occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth reduces exposing the root of the tooth. It can also be caused by over brushing. While it is more common in those over the age of 40, it may start as early as in the late teens. 41% of you thought it was all part of getting older and there’s nothing you can do about it. (The dentist told me that the majority of people have receding gums, and all because of scrubbing the teeth rather than gently brushing.)

Thought eating parsley neutralises bad breath? 87% of you did. While it can be effective if you’ve just eaten a strong smelling food, the most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Bacteria that coat your teeth, tongue and gums can cause plaque build-up (the soft, sticky deposit that forms on the surface of the teeth), gum disease and dental decay. These bacteria combine with saliva and food in the mouth, breaking down food particles and proteins, which releases an unpleasant-smelling gas. (I did believe this – I also still believe this about eating raw carrot.)

22% of you said “good teeth are inherited so there’s not much I can do.” While that is a nice excuse to get away with not taking good care of your teeth it’s just not true. While the shape, position and, to some small degree, strength of your teeth may be influenced by your genes, the effectiveness of your personal oral care routine is the biggest factor by far when it comes to having healthy teeth and gums. (A dear friend of mine does believe that he inherited gum disease…)

A good oral health routine consists of – Flossing once a day, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and using an anti-bacterial mouthwash – at a different time to brushing – to help protect your gums.


I have had only one bad experience with a tooth – I was in Birmingham a few years ago – filming an episode of Doctors. And the pain that happened in my mouth overnight in the hotel was excruciating. I needed an emergency root canal. And I did think from that day forward that I would do everything I possibly could to avoid that happening again – regular dental checks, flossing etc.


I would highly recommend the Colgate Electric Toothbrushes – especially as they are currently 50% off at Superdrug!! Superdrug is also offering free delivery until 4th December 2012.

If you are based in Ireland I notice that Debenhams are doing excellent deals currently on their electric toothbrushes.


Colgate ProClinical C200 – Usually £64.99 Currently £32.54

Colgate ProClinical C600 – Usually £49.95 Currently £49.95

To buy UK – http://www.superdrug.com/electrictoothbrush

To buy Ireland – http://www.debenhams.ie/electrictoothbrush


1 Comment on The 3 Month Brush

  1. GREAT write up! I couldn’t agree more, changing your toothbrush every 3 months is vital to your oral health.

    Thats why I created the “toothbrush subscription”. Every 3 months we send you a new toothbrush, right to your mailbox!! Check it out at http://www.onelessthought,com

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