The Poor Oral Hygiene Habits of Millennials

Written by Celina Duran Lozano

December 09, 2019

Millennials have gotten a lot of criticism in recent years and are never far from the headlines. They will soon become the largest living age group in the United States, but they haven’t always had things as easy as their parents and grandparents and there are now reports suggesting that even their dental hygiene standards aren’t up to scratch!

A recent study found that three in ten Millennials only brush their teeth once a day and many go without brushing for up to 2 days in a row. But is this another case of “Millennial-bashing” or is there some truth to this, and if so, what problems can these habits cause?

The Study

There are a couple of issues with this study. Firstly, it asked the participants outright, which means it was never going to arrive at exact estimation because a large number of them would be too ashamed to admit their faults. Secondly, and more importantly, there were just 2,000 participants.

It makes for a great headline, but it’s also very misleading, which is why we won’t even link to the study. However, it does raise an important point: Many Americans don’t brush enough.

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The Truth

More accurate studies have suggested that 7 out of 10 Americans brush their teeth at least twice a day and for an average of 1 minute and 52 seconds at a time. This is in line with what the American Dental Association recommends, but there is a small percentage of Americans (across all age groups) that don’t follow those guidelines so closely and have one of the following bad habits:

Not Brushing Enough

Your mouth is a haven for bacteria, and it gets worse every time you eat. Bacteria can turn to plaque and if you brush regularly, you’ll scrub it away. If not, it can react with the minerals in your mouth and harden, turning into a substance known as tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist.

Both plaque and tartar smell and can be stained by the things you eat and drink, turning from an off-white to a deep and disgusting yellow. The longer these substances remain unchecked, the more damage they do, eating away at your enamel, causing bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. There are even suggestions that bad oral health can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, although just like the “Millennial” study mentioned above, once you actually dig through the study it becomes a little less alarming than the headline suggests.  

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Not Flossing

Food can become trapped between your teeth, producing bacteria that turns to plaque and then tarter. You could brush regularly and still be at risk of plaque, tartar, and all the problems that go with them. It’s important to floss at least once a day to get rid of those problem-causing particles and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Using the Wrong Toothpaste

There is a misconception that having sensitive teeth is just a random occurrence, something that isn’t related to the health of your teeth or the efficiency of your oral hygiene routine. But sensitive teeth can be caused by damaged enamel and exposed roots.

Even if you get fillings and caps and cover your exposed roots, your teeth may still have multiple small fractures, which means you’re more prone to temperature changes.

If you suffer from this issue, you need a toothpaste that will repair your teeth, one that will strengthen the enamel. This is what Sensodyne does, but there are other products as well and they all contain high concentrations of fluoride. 

After brushing, avoid rinsing your mouth with water or toothpaste—give the fluoride time to work its magic on the surface of your teeth. If you brush at least twice a day and for at least 2 minutes at a time, you may notice an improvement within just a few days.

Overusing Teeth Whitening Products

One of the worst things you can do when you have sensitive teeth is to use a whitening toothpaste, but these products can also cause harm if used to excess on healthy teeth. They “whiten” by scrubbing plaque from your teeth and are highly abrasive, much more so than traditional toothpaste. If used to excess, that nonstop scrubbing can weaken your enamel and wear it down to the roots.

Whitening toothpaste is also pretty ineffective as the main causes of discoloration are tartar and dentin stains, neither of which can be remedied by using a whitening toothpaste. You need a professional whitening kit, such as the ones sold here at SNOW. These kits are designed to whiten in just a single application, giving you quick, safe, and effective results every time without the need for strong abrasives.

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Can I Used Mouthwash Instead?

A number of people skip the brushing and flossing altogether and simply wash their mouths out with mouthwash instead. It’s quick and easy; it’s refreshing, and it also gets rid of all those food particles and bacteria.

So, what’s the point in brushing, right?

The problem with this lazy oral hygiene routine is that you’re not scrubbing the plaque away from your teeth. This can slowly form into tartar and do all kinds of damage. However, if you genuinely can’t spare the two or three minutes it takes to brush and floss twice a day, then committing to once a day and using mouthwash after every meal may help.

It’s definitely not as good as brushing twice a day, but it’s better than not doing anything at all.