Dentist reveals common tooth brushing mistake that’s giving you bad breath

The secret lies in your cheeks.

Dentist reveals common tooth brushing mistake that’s giving you bad breath
Man brushing teeth smiling
Don’t forget this step (Picture: Getty Images/Image Source)

We all know we should probably do more to have good oral hygiene (although, flossing with your hair and using mouthwash after you brush should be avoided).

But did you know that a little-known tip is brushing your cheeks?

It may sound very strange, but Dr Daz Singh, lead dentist and clinical director for Ollie and Darsh Liverpool, swears by it. 

In fact, he tells that it was one of the most common brushing mistakes he came across last year, as well as neglecting the tongue, which should also be brushed.

Skipping these parts of the mouth when brushing can lead to an accumulation of bacteria, resulting in bad breath and potential oral health issues.

‘Brushing your teeth is a crucial part of maintaining good oral hygiene, and it’s important to include the tongue and inner cheeks in your oral care routine,’ he says.

‘The tongue and inner cheeks can harbor a significant number of bacteria, food particles, and dead cells. Neglecting these areas may allow bacteria to thrive, contributing to bad breath, plaque formation, and other oral health issues.

‘The majority of bad breath [known as halitosis] is caused by bacteria in the mouth, particularly on the tongue.

How important is oral hygiene?

You may think that everyone knows to keep their teeth clean since childhood, but that’s not the case. You might be one of the 31% of Brits who either don’t brush their teeth at all or manage only one brush on a typical day.

Poor oral health has been associated with things like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cognitive decline and pneumonia

‘Brushing or scraping the tongue helps remove the bacteria responsible for unpleasant odors. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, can accumulate on the surfaces of the teeth, tongue, and inner cheeks.

‘Regular brushing helps remove this plaque, preventing it from hardening into tartar, which can lead to gum disease and cavities. 

‘Neglecting the inner cheeks while brushing might lead to the buildup of plaque along the gumline. This can contribute to gum inflammation and, over time, may lead to more serious conditions such as gingivitis or periodontitis.

‘Comprehensive oral care involves cleaning all surfaces of the mouth. This includes the teeth, gums, tongue, and inner cheeks. Neglecting any of these areas can compromise the effectiveness of your oral hygiene routine.’

How should you brush your teeth?

Much like having cereal and making a cuppa, a lot of people disagree on the correct order for brushing teeth. But it was only a few years ago when we discovered the correct order:

You should use mouthwash first, then brush, followed by dental floss. You should then use a fluoride rinse – with no water –for as long as possible.

When it comes to cleaning the inner cheeks and other soft tissues in the mouth, a toothbrush with soft bristles is recommended.

Soft-bristled toothbrushes are gentle on the gums and the delicate tissues inside the mouth, minimizing the risk of irritation or damage.

While many toothbrushes in the market have soft bristles, it’s always a good idea to check the packaging or product description to ensure that the toothbrush is labeled as having soft bristles, the dentist explains.

Plus, some toothbrushes are specifically designed for sensitive gums and tissues, and these can be a suitable choice for cleaning the inner cheeks.

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