Survey Finds Forthcomings in Americans' Dental Health Habits

Nearly seven out of 10 Americans brush their teeth at least twice a day but more than 30 percent aren’t brushing enough, according to a survey published by Delta Dental.

Most Americans do it twice a day — once at bedtime and once after getting up in the morning — for an average of one minute and fifty-two seconds, according to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes, twice a day.

African Americans brush 18 seconds longer than Americans as a whole, while younger adults ages 18 to 24 spend 16 seconds longer than average brushing. Nearly six of 10 Americans brush their teeth at bedtime and as soon as they wake up in the morning, while 38 percent brush after breakfast. About 17 percent brush after lunch, and 21 percent brush after dinner.

According to the Delta Dental survey, 91 percent of Americans brush most frequently at home in their bathrooms over the sink. However, about 4 percent say they most frequently brush in the shower. Americans ages 18 to 44 are twice as likely to brush in the shower.

"We don’t have a formal position at Delta Dental on where to brush – as long as you’re not brushing while driving," said Dr. Bill Kohn, vice president of dental science and policy for Delta Dental Plans Association. "Fortunately, only 0.2 percent of Americans try to seek the efficiency of brushing while driving."

Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is key to good oral health, Kohn says. In fact, according to the Delta Dental survey, people who brush at least twice a day are 22 percent more likely to describe their oral health as good or better compared with those who brush less frequently.

Unfortunately, 23 percent of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth in the past year. Nearly 37 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 have gone that long without brushing.

Flossing is another area that could use some improvement, according to Kohn. Only four of 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and 20 percent never floss. The survey showed a strong relationship between flossing daily and reporting good oral health.

Through one of the lighter topics addressed in the survey, Delta Dental found that one-third of Americans have made their partners brush their teeth before a kiss. Men were less likely to require brushing before kissing. For more results from the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, visit deltadental.com. For more tips on brushing from the ADA, visit MouthHealthy.org.

© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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