A recent study has shown that footballers have worse oral hygiene than the general population, with almost 40 per cent said to have cavities. It’s not especially welcome news, especially as dodgy teeth can actually have a negative effect on overall performance.
Footballers, here’s some basic guidance for keeping your pearly whites pearly white.
Most people use a toothbrush to clean their teeth. It’s essentially a plastic stick with a tuft of bristles at one end. Like boots, they come in all sorts of colours and styles, so you can ensure you always stand out in the bathroom.
It’s important to use the best brush for you. Sam Allardyce has a great set of chompers, but his mouth also happens to be the size of the average hippo’s. While a broom may work for him, most of you simply won’t able to cram something that large into your mouth, and that’s not a criticism. Choose a brush head that fits comfortably.
Rough ‘em Up
Now to the business end of the brush. Bristles are funny-looking things that feel nice when you rub your finger across them -- think Mario Balotelli's hair -- and they’re really important. These are what you need to stroke across your teeth, in order to scrape tooth-rotting bacteria away.
As we’ve seen in the section above, however, there’s a balance you need to get right. Some bristles are painfully tough (think Ben Thatcher), some too gentle (your Arjen Robben type), while others are just right. I’m talking Yaya Toure -- the ultimate toothbrush. After all, you want to get rid of all the dirt, but without damaging your gums (the pink stuff your teeth should be attached to).
Most toothpaste tubes contain enough cleaning goo for several brushing sessions, so you try not to empty an entire container each time. Instead, you merely need a pea- or stud-sized ball of the white (or red, white and blue or sparkly) stuff.
It's fun to play with, but exercise some restraint. Unlike vanishing spray, toothpaste will leave a mark on your clothing and rug. Squeeze a bit onto the bristly part of your brush, and try to ensure it doesn't roll off.
A Game of Two (or Three) Halves
Absolutely key. Two minutes per go (slightly less time than the average Leeds United manager gets), at least twice a day. That’s usually after breakfast and just before sleepy time, but if you're feeling adventurous, feel free to have a bash after lunch too!
Always look to play the pressing game. You want to place gentle, constant pressure on all of your gnashers, while using short brush strokes. I know, I know, it’s tough to think about more than one thing at a time, but it’ll come to you. If in doubt, think of the old trumpet celebration, and imitate it with a brush in one hand.
Ready to show the world what you're made of? Hold your horses for just a minute. You haven't warmed up yet, and that's dangerous. Make sure you practice your movements and stretch your muscles before hitting the sink. Brushing is a strenuous activity, and it’s really not worth risking a muscle injury, even for that smile you've always wanted. Shake your heavily-tattooed arms and torso loose, practice your movements and repeat as required. If it helps, don't be embarrassed to bring a training partner into the fold. Be safe, not sorry.
Kick-Off and Smash It
There won't be a first or last whistle -- you can use the sound of your toilet flushing instead -- so it's all down to you. Remember all of the moves above and do yourself proud. Lay everything out in the bathroom. Leave with no regrets. Make it count. Don't swallow your toothpaste. Channel your inner El-Hadji Diouf and spit. Celebrate. Remember, this isn't about the team. This is about you.
You may have put a good shift in this morning, but you can't rest on your laurels. There are loads of talented tooth-brushers out there, and you're going to have to put the work in if you want to be remembered. Like your hairdo, you should look at switching your brush every three months. That's not all though. Brushing should be just one part of a healthy training regime, with flossing, mouthwash and a healthy diet rounding things out.