REVEALED: Thousands of Australian parents are getting into a dirty habit in lockdown
- Millions of Australians have admitted to not brushing their teeth in lockdown
- A survey by HCF found 2.7 million have skipped this daily hygiene habit
- 1.9 million were prompted to brush their teeth after wearing a mask
- Parents said they were motivated to brush their teeth to be a role model for kids
Millions of Australians have admitted to skipping brushing their teeth during lockdown, according to the results of a new survey released by HCF ahead of the 2021 Dental Health Week.
The survey conducted on behalf of Australia’s largest not-for-profit private health fund, HCF, found 2.7 million Australians have skipped this daily hygiene habit stuck at home.
As many as 1.9 million people were also only prompted to brush their teeth during lockdown after putting on a mask and smelling their own breath.
The alarming figure likely occurred as lifestyle habits and routines have altered while in lockdown, as people no longer need to get ready for work every morning.
The survey conducted on behalf of Australia’s largest not-for-profit private health fund, HCF, found 2.7 million Australians have skipped this daily hygiene habit while in lockdown
The survey also revealed that parents with kids at home under the age of 18 were more likely to delay or skip brushing teeth at least once a week compared to those who do not have children under 18.
But one in four parents said they were motivated to brush their teeth to be a good role model for kids, while men were more likely than women to skip brushing their teeth.
Other reasons people were prompted to brush their teeth during lockdown included feeling unhygienic, the teeth started to feel ‘furry’, feeling guilty or they were about to leave home.
HCF Dentist Dr Chris Ho said it was more important than ever that people put extra thought to their oral health to keep smiling during uncertain times.
HCF Dentist Dr Chris Ho (right) said it was more important than ever that people put extra thought to their oral health to keep smiling during uncertain times
‘During lockdown a lot of our daily life has changed, but one thing you can control is your dental health,’ Dr Ho said.
‘While we’ve been forced to slow down, this is actually a great time to set up healthy habits like brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing at least once a day and concentrating on good nutrition.
‘Your local dentist may only be open for emergencies, but chances are they are only a phone call away if you have any concerns, so that you can avoid something more serious, and expensive, happening down the track.’
Dr Ho’s top tips for maintaining dental hygiene while in lockdown include limiting snack consumption, be mindful if you skip brushing your teeth and eat healthy food.
Dr Ho’s top dental tips for lockdown
1. Watch the snacks: ‘Every time we eat or drink, the digestion process starts in the mouth. If you constantly snack you don’t give your saliva time to work which could result in more acid in the mouth and more sensitivity and decay,’ Dr Ho said.
2. Don’t forget nutrition: Dr Ho said food high in sugar can significantly damage tooth enamel.
‘The best drink for your teeth is water,’ he said
3. De-stress: ‘Lockdown has put us in many stressful situations like homeschooling, working from home, and not enjoying social activities.
‘People who are more stressed may tend to clench their teeth and get jaw ache, so try some strategies to reduce stress for the sake of your smile as well as your mental health.’
4. Find a new daily routine: Dr Ho said people should be mindful of skipping healthy habits just because they’re no longer commuting to work or leaving the house.
‘Don’t blame lockdown for skipping brushing your teeth; rather, use it as an excuse to spend more time on your health and implement a routine to help get you back on track,’ he said.
‘If you’re not used to flossing, then now is the time to start – daily flossing helps to reduce dental decay, gum disease, and even bad breath by cleaning between the teeth where your brush may not reach.
‘Brushing your tongue and roof of your mouth also helps prevent bad breath, so your friends and family will benefit too!’
5. Make a plan to visit your dentist: Dr Ho recommended people make a plan to visit their dentist when restrictions ease.
‘It’s something to look forward to for the sake of your health,’ Dr Ho said